Much ado has been made about the ubiquity of Steeler Nation, and rightly so. As far as I can tell, most Steeler fans have a story to tell about running into another fan in unexpected locations. I love these stories, and hope you all will indulge me as I tell a few of them. After all, we have six weeks to kill before training camp.
My eldest son, the one who first introduced me to BTSC, moved to Colorado Springs a couple of years ago, and is a telecommuter. Since he has a very young son he finds it helpful to get out of the house for part of the day. Therefore he started scouting out nearby coffee houses with agreeable ambiance and free wifi soon after they moved in. (Good coffee was a given, of course.) One day he noticed a new place and decided to try it out. As he paid for his coffee the woman at the register said "I really like your shirt." It was, naturally, a Steelers shirt. He discovered a knot of Pittsburgh fans in the middle of Bronco country, and now watches games at the home of the matriarch of the clan. The picture is of three satisfied patrons, two of whom were visiting from Mexico City. (See if you can guess which ones...)
While visiting said son and family last Christmas I was invited over to watch the last game of the season. My son and I were greeted with the following sight:
To be completely accurate, something I always strive for as a journalist, I have to confess this was the sight we saw after the game as we were leaving. We had a lovely time, naturally, although there were a couple of tense moments. During them, our hostess had a more than a few choice words to fling at the television, including some very pointed suggestions to specific players. However, it was a highly satisfactory game, all in all.
Donna showed me one of the family heirlooms. The picture is actually printed on an unrolled Iron City can...
To get from Pittsburgh to Colorado we took the train. We left Pittsburgh at midnight and spent most of the next two nights and days on Amtrak. On the final morning one of the car attendants noticed my Steelers shirt and suggested I make a visit to the snack bar at the bottom of the observation car, as "Joe would love to talk to you." "Joe" turned out to be Joe Celidonia, and there was no question as to why he would be interested when I noticed he was wearing a Steelers lanyard. But it doesn’t stop there. Joe keeps a special jacket with his gear, just for when he detrains in Denver. Here it is:
It used to belong his uncle, who offered it to him. Joe told me he declined at first because it was just too gaudy. But then it occured to him that he could wear it when he detrains in Denver, and now he brings it with him on every trip. It’s really something else. Here is the left sleeve:
The right sleeve has badges for each of the AFC Championship games. Really, it leaves no stone unturned in possible ways to annoy fans of other teams. (Perhaps the only more annoying thing is when Joe insists that the audio feed in the cafe on Sundays is the Steelers game.)
I’m sure we all have stories about running across Steelers fans around the U.S. But how about Belgium? While waiting for a bus outside of Ghent, what should I see walking up to the shelter but a Steelers shirt. The gentleman inside it was from the U.S., though, which slightly reduces the awesomeness of the story. (However, he wasn’t from Pennsylvania, so that makes it slightly better.)
Fortunately, I can top that rather anti-climatic story with the following picture, taken in north-eastern France:
The young men in the picture are practicing with the Artilleurs de Metz. If you’ve never heard of them, they are a team in the FFFA - "Fédération Français de Football Américain". I attended a practice and interviewed one of the players, and will hopefully be regaling you with the tale soon.
While the players have official jerseys—and I’m sorry to say that the Metz Gunners wear a rather Ravens-like purple—for practices they wear whatever they like, which in most cases is the jersey of some admired player. Naturally I was thrilled to see the jersey for the Long-Locked one...
A while back I wrote an article about watching a Steelers game in a Mexican sports bar, in which the rout of the Browns by the Steelers on the field (this was the end of 2011) was matched by the rout of the fans of any other teams in the sports bar. Most of the patrons of the bar were locals, and almost to a man (and woman, for that matter) they were Steelers fans. The sole exceptions were an outspoken couple of Ravens fans and a rather disconsolate-looking Jets fan at the bar.
Sometimes it's the things closest to home which touch you the most, though. Last fall my chorus performed a concert in which the singers and the music were part of a play. The play was set in the English Renaissance, sort of, and the singers wore rather rudimentary costumes. One of the basses felt his tabard was a bit plain, so he decorated it himself, thusly:
Had he but known, he could have purchased this one:
Well, I realize that whenever there are pictures in a post the guys like to see a cheerleader, so I'll end with this picture, taken in Wales, where the young lady resides:
I suppose it’s cheating, though, because she is my grand-daughter. She is almost a year older now, and refuses to wear things that aren’t pink to some degree or other. Fortunately I believe Steeler dresses are also available in pink, and will send her one shortly. Gotta represent, baby!
I realize I've only covered the very tip of the iceberg in Steeler World. Feel free to add you stories and/or pictures to the comments.