View Full Version : Hard-nosed Steelers are real America's team

02-01-2009, 08:56 AM
Woooooo, game day is finally here! GO STEELERS!

By Tom E. Curran
updated 5:42 p.m. ET, Fri., Jan. 30, 2009

Image: Tom Curran
Tom E. Curran
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TAMPA, Fla. - The 1970s was a hellacious decade for America. And the problems went beyond leisure suits, shag rugs and the Captain and Tennille.

The country was storm-tossed for a decade. A gas crisis. An energy crisis. Unemployment woes. A car industry taking on water. A controversial faraway war. Betrayals by political leaders. A hostage crisis in Iran that, with each passing day, gave the nation a creeping feeling that it was losing its power and — with it — its sense of self.

By 1979, a 43-year-old country rock star from Wilmington, N.C., named Charlie Daniels had grown tired of his country’s flagging self-esteem. He wrote a goose-bump raising song called, “In America” that gave people a kick in the ass and a reason to puff out their chests.

One part went like this…

“From the Sound up in Long Island out to San Francisco Bay, and everything that’s in between them is our home.

”And we may have done a little bit of fighting amongst ourselves, but you outside people best leave us alone.

“Cause we'll all stick together and you can take that to the bank. That’s the cowboys and the hippies and the rebels and the yanks.

”You just go and lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan ... and I think you're gonna finally understand.”

Daniels could have chosen another fanbase from a successful franchise to make his point — the Yankees and Cowboys were at high points back then — but he chose gritty Pittsburgh. Why? Well, probably because of what Pittsburgh represented then.

The perception of Pittsburgh was a city built on hard, physical work — steel and coal mining. A place where, even as the city’s industry was crumbling, the citizens stayed loyal to it because it was home. A place that knew who it was and wasn’t going to smooth back its hair and change out of its boots to put on airs.

Pittsburgh was like the toughest friend you had. Might not be particularly funny, smart or handsome, but if the stuff was hitting the fan, you knew Pittsburgh wouldn’t cut and run.

America’s going through some déjà vu, no?

We’re wrestling all of those '70s demons again. But there’s some glinting hope these days that the cowboys and the hippies of the 00's — the radical right and loony left — will meet in the middle now so that we can fight our way back out.

Funny thing is, as much as the face of Pittsburgh’s changed in the past 30 years, the link to that time when the Steelers were winning Super Bowls and people (‘Burghers and beyond) identified with them is unbroken.

The Steelers as representatives of Pittsburgh pride still mean a lot to people nationally.

Friday, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin’s words were infused with pride when asked about the Steelers following.

“I embrace (the national following),” the 36-year-old said. “Steeler nation drives me on a day to day basis. They are why...we do what we do. We appreciate it. There is nothing like going into a hostile environment and seeing so many rabid, friendly faces (of traveling Steelers fans) so that is a pleasure to be a part of.”

There are other NFL teams that can claim “national” fanbases. The Cowboys, Raiders, Packers and — perhaps to lesser degrees — the Patriots, 49ers and Giants all have far-flung fans.

But when one considers why the Steelers captured American imaginations, it has more to do with their brand of straight-ahead, smashmouth offensive football and brute-force defensive football that has been in the game’s DNA since the sport began.

The “Steeler Way” didn’t start seven years ago with their latest coach. It started with Chuck Noll in 1969. It developed through four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. The torch was passed to Pittsburgh native Bill Cowher in 1992 and the defense-first, running game second commitment resulted in another Super Bowl win in 2005. Now, it’s Tomlin’s job, and he says he understands what his marching orders are.

“One of the reasons we have had consistent excellence over a long period of time in our organization is because we are under the leadership of Dan and Art Rooney (the team’s ownership),” Tomlin explains. “Their vision of what Steelers football is about is very clear. I think I have my job because my vision is similar to what their vision is. I have learned more about their vision since I have been there so, of course, I am going to play to it."

Said former Dallas Cowboy Nate Newton on Friday, “Who would not like how the Steelers do things? They’ve had three coaches (in 30 years) and they’re all the same kind of guy. Serious-minded men, guys that can lead. I love the Steelers for what they’ve done in that aspect. They don’t say, ‘Well, we need a soft coach, we need a hard coach.’ They hire men who have a philosophy that fits what they’ve always done.”

Some NFL teams change styles season to season. The Steelers haven’t changed DECADE TO DECADE.

There’s something reassuring about that. Steady. Consistent.

Says Steelers chairman Dan Rooney when asked about his teams following through the decades.

“Success had something to do with it. And difficult times in Pittsburgh (in the 1970s) had something to do with it. We sort of filled the void (that the tough times brought). We were something for their pride.”

Same as it ever was.


02-01-2009, 11:13 AM
The national media is begrudgingly acknowledging what we have known for 2 decades. The Steelers are the world's NFL team not just America's.

Even in supposed other top NFL cities you find Steelers bars everywhere. How many Cowboys bars do you think are in Pittsburgh?

What's even better is after a win today the phenomena will get even bigger with a whole new generation of fans across the country drawn to the Steelers.