I am not even sure how to begin this. I have been telling my wife for years about how great it would be to go to a Steelers game at Heinz; jokingly calling it a pilgrimage to "the promised land." Christmas morning I open my gift and it is 2 tickets to the Steelers game against the Browns. Even though I was holding them in my hand, I still could not believe what I was holding. It was like holding a lottery ticket, comparing the numbers on the screen, and realizing your numbers matched exactly; yet, still wanting to look again to make sure what you are seeing is real. I was like a little kid and Saturday morning(when we were leaving) could not get here soon enough.
We planned our drive. It was going to be about an 8 or 9 hour drive. It was not a bad drive. The best part was when we came out of the Ft. Pitt Tunnel(I think that is the name of it) and there was the bridge in front and Heinz Field to the left in all its illuminated glory. I could not fully enjoy the view of Heinz as there were cars in front of me, as my wife pointed out to me, and traffic signs to follow.
That night we travelled to The Bus’ restaurant. The place was packed. I had one of the best steaks I have ever eaten there; it was very delicious. I had read on BTSC people talking about Iron City Beer. I knew it was brewed there in Pittsburgh, and thought it might not be that good of a drink choice. Wanting the full first time Pittsburgh experience, or, at least as full as I could get in a weekend, I ordered one. I thought, even if it is bad, I am going to finish it…the team didn’t quit on the season, and I won’t quit on the beer!!! I was very pleasantly surprised. The beer was really good and ordered another the next night. My only regret was not getting a 6-pack to bring back to NC with me.
GAMEDAY!!!!!! My wife and I rode the subway to the stadium. At the station, there were some Browns fans gathered together. A father and son, may have been a grandfather/grandson, came down. The older gentleman was dressed in Browns attire, while the younger(probably 10 or 11) was wearing Steelers stuff—clearly, he was the more intelligent of the 2. The older gentlemen started talking junk…in a friendly manner…stating the Browns were going to break the Steelers hearts…that is, unless MT got in the way. He was funny and everyone in the station took it that way.
Walking through the Great Hall was amazing. Seeing the mementoes from the Super Bowls was amazing. It was soooo crowded down there as we made our way to the lockers. Seeing some of them brought back memories of the players—Bradshaw, Franco, Mean Joe, Swann/Stallworth, the Bus—it gave me chills. As we made our way to our seats, the scene was amazing. There it was before me Heinz Field, home of the 6-time Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers—the team I have followed more than 30 years. Before sitting down, I had to take in the scenery around me.
As those that been to games know, when the Steelers made a 1st down, the announcer would say, "That’s a Pittsburgh Steelers…" the crowd would finish with 1st down. There was a fan sitting somewhere above me, that, when people got quiet, would, in his best Gilbert Gottfried voice, echo the 1st down proclamation. It was hilarious. There were a couple of Browns fans sitting near us, and they were good sports about everything.
4th quarter, I knew it had to be close. Troy’s picture was on the big screen, I could hear it, " O momma…" it gave me chills. That was one of the moments I was waiting for. It was everything, and then some, that I expected. Even the Browns fan sitting beside me was singing it…she did acknowledge it was a cool song. Then I had a memory of a couple of videos posted by Christopher Carter where he recorded "Renegade". Once again, I heard something familiar and pointed it out to my wife…"He got the ball…he got the ball…" It was there again for all to hear during the last "Renegade" of the last home game of the 2013 season.
Even though it rained the whole day, it did not dampen my spirits. By the time the game was over, I did not feel wet or cold. I only felt the joy of the experience. It came close to, but not better than, getting married or seeing my children being born. I can’t wait to do that again and see if the experience is the same the second time around….at least that is the reason I gave my wife to buy more tickets for a game next season….