The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: What was your path to Steelers fandom?
Since we are already on the topic of Steelers patronage, based on the question that I posed yesterday about how a relocation would impact your status as a fan of the team, I thought it would be good to continue the discussion today to talk about how we came to be fans of the team in the first place. Many already provided snippets of their story in the comments yesterday, which I believe was filled with some great contributions and quality discussion.
Pittsburgh’s fan base is an interesting and perhaps even unique one given its multiple layers of diaspora. While there is a core group that is regional, there is also a wide-cast net of expatriates of the city who were forced to relocate themselves due to the collapse of its chief industry and the ripple effects thereof.
Yet there is also a heavily populated constituency of those who have never had a direct tie to the city, and I myself fall under that umbrella. I’m sure I’ve relayed this story a time or two, but the first football game I can remember actively watching is the Super Bowl at the end of the 1995 season.
While the Steelers lost that game, I became drawn to their iconic visuals, and in the coming years I began to read about some of the organization’s milestones and Hall-of-Fame players. It didn’t take long to find myself identifying with the team in spite of the fact that I should have ostensibly been pulling for the Giants or the Jets as a native of New Jersey.
Yet my father tells a similar story of watching the 1972 Wildcard game that berthed the Immaculate Reception and jumping around the room when it happened. Anybody who knows anything about the history of the franchise knows how significant a moment that was.
While my father grew up a Steelers fan, I don’t know that his fandom was passed on to me in any direct way. And like me, he has no direct connection to Pittsburgh. Yet there is a universality to the appeal of the team that is nonetheless very much Pittsburgh that allows those not in the area to so readily identify with their personality and culture.