The Dallas Cowboys chose to brand themselves as America’s Team, and it largely stuck, at least among Cowboys fans and those outside of sports, or football. The real truth is that America has no one team, and it’s quite arguable that that is part of what being American is about. There are many options.
Still, it can’t be denied that there are some teams more than others who hold prestige, for a variety of reasons, whether it is their organizational success or parts of their history, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are without question in that discussion.
They were also a part of Colin Cowherd’s discussion when, on July 3rd, he created a list of 10 teams throughout all of American sports that he feels are representative of what it is to be an American, and an American team.
“I thought I would give you what teams really symbolize America”, he said on his show. “Not necessarily winning the most championships. What teams in America, in all these sports, in all these leagues, all this history in America, what teams symbolize what America’s about?”.
This was not a ranked list, but the Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers were named first and second, with the Steelers being named third. And you’ll be happy to know, I think, that he actually gets the history of the team’s diaspora right, which is so often misconstrued.
“There’s a lot of Steeler fans around the country. They still, more than the Cowboys, have more fans go to road games than any other franchise”, he said. “Now the reason being is that the Steel industry in the 70s and 80s shrank, and it displaced all those people living in Pittsburgh that lost the steel jobs, and they moved all over the country. They moved to Miami, they moved to the Midwest”.
There’s a great book by Chad Millman and Shayne Coyne called The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the ‘70s, and the Fight for America’s Soul. It interweaves the narrative between the team’s rise in the 1970s and the simultaneous decline in the steel industry. It’s very much worth a read if that particular subject interests you. Anyway, moving on.
“They’re tied for the most Super Bowl wins. They’ve always had a very sort of working-class, lunch-pail ethos”, Cowherd went on to say of the Steelers, who along with the New England Patriots have each won the most, six, Super Bowl titles. “The Terrible Towels, Myron Cope, the announcer started those, waving all across America”.
The Steelers cannot be spoken of in this context without an acknowledgement of the approaching century-long guidance of the Rooney family, starting with Art Rooney, Sr. in 1933 and now through his grandson, Art Rooney II, and of course the legendary Dan Rooney in between.