When it comes to football fandom, the Pittsburgh Steelers have something special. Just ask Steeler Nation, they’ll tell you.
I’m only ribbing, of course, but there is a long-documented history of the Steelers and the fact that they almost routinely have a very active fan presence in most road stadiums. While the argument of their fan-base being ‘well-traveled’ is a bit inaccurate, the broader truth is that the team has a wide diaspora of fans around the country and the globe, both because of their success, history, and culture, and also because of driving economic factors that saw many ‘Burghers relocate to other cities as Pittsburgh redefined itself as more of a white-collar than blue-collar industry, at least by trade, if not by personality.
Geography only plays a small part in it, however. We have seen time and time again that players who grew up in other parts of the country and spent a good portion of their careers in another NFL city have come to Pittsburgh later on and identified with the organization and the city so much that they chose to make it their home for the long term.
Hell, just look at Arthur Moats. After spending four years with the Buffalo Bills, he signed with the Steelers one a one-year veteran-minimum deal, re-upping the year after on a three-year contract. He signed elsewhere this offseason, only to suffer a season-ending injury, subsequently waived off of injured reserve.
Where was he last night, on a sprained MCL? Why, he was right around here, participating in the Steelers’ Youth Football Showcase, dancing with the fans as JuJu Smith-Schuster was last week. Here’s a guy with a bum knee not even on the roster who is working with the team’s community. Because he is a part of the community. He’s decided that he is one of the lucky ones and has made it his home.
Touchdown celebration 10/10 👍 pic.twitter.com/TUNrHSP4ws
— Steelers Youth FB (@SteelersYouthFB) October 20, 2018
Take it from somebody who grew up in Steeler Nation who now gets to be a part of it, as in Erie’s James Conner. He talked about the phenomenon recently during a television appearance in which he discussed a variety of topics.
“Steeler Nation is real. It’s everywhere”, he said. “We went out to a kids’ camp out in Cancun this year, Joey Porter was out there. We get off the plan out there and people in Mexico are coming out to us. It’s just real, and [it’s] unbelievable to play for them. I don’t take it for granted. Every time I put on the black and gold, it’s a special, special thing to be a part of, and I’m just so thankful I’m a Steeler”.