I don't want to monopolize the board... This is part one of six of my time in TAMPA.
The rest I will put as links
The Steeler Nation
There are a lot of Steelers fans across the world, and even in outer space. I've been a fan my whole life (having grown up in Pittsburgh in the 70s.) All of the years I spent in Pittsburgh, I was always a member of "The Steeler Nation." I didn't know what it meant, though, until I moved away.
You just can't imagine what it is like to be part of the Steeler Nation until you go to a Hostile (or "neutral") site and find that not only are you not alone, but that stadium is now occupied territory.
That's what it was like arriving at Raymond James Stadium this past Sunday. We had expected it. People had talked about it. But until you experienced it, you can't understand what ot means.
We pulled into the parking lot, past the sign that proclaimed: "No Tailgaiting". The sign clearly was meant for Cardinal fans... because as we turned into the lot we were greeted with a hundred fans, food put out with care, and Steeler fight songs blaring on the CD players.
They came from all over -- in whatever they could find to bring them there
And if you couldn't afford a Steeler's Jersey... well did you know that the Terrible Towel doubles as Steeler Attire? (Caution -- female fans only!)
Welcome to Super Bowl 43, AKA, the Steelers 9th Home game of the year.
In fairness, we did see four cardinal fans parking their cars, but they scurried away as fast as they could. Not that the Steeler Nation was brutal with them. In fact, not a bad word was said. We looked at them with interest - the Cardinal fan - the rarest of sightings.
In some ways, I think the Steeler Nation was happy to see them. Now that the Cardinals have imported some of Steeler Football with Coach Whiz, and Coach Grimm, it's time that their fans learned their part.
Because Steelers football is not just about Xs and Os. It's also about commitment. It is about 60 minutes worth of commitment between the lines for the players, and lifelong commitment for the fans outside. You are a Steelers fan for life. No matter where you live.
Walking towards the stadium, you would occasionally hear cheers of greetings from fans - and those would invariably be Cardinal's fans. They were always surprised to find out that they were not alone. Steelers fans usually greeted each other with a nod of the head. No one was surprised.
The Steelers Nation - like the Steelers Team - expected to be here.
To save BTSC space, the rest of this report is: