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Giving Thanks for the Pittsburgh Steelers

There are 32 football teams in the NFL.  They all share media revenues, have relatively equal stadium sizes, operate under a salary cap and thus, are all created equal.  Since the inauguration of the Super Bowl, at roughly the same time the old AFL and NFL merged into one structure, each franchise should have mathematically won a single Super Bowl, with 11 teams lucky enough to grab two Lombardis.  The Pittsburgh Steelers have won two by themselves in just the last four years.  They have won six overall, more than any other franchise. Thank you Steelers.

Since that merger in 1970, the Steelers have compiled 29 winning seasons. No team has done better, only one has matched (Miami) and most are far behind.  The Steelers have finished in the Conference Final Four 20 times.  No team has done better, only one has matched (Dallas) and most are far behind.  Pittsburgh has played for the Conference Championship 14 times.  No team has done better, only one has matched (Dallas) and most are far behind.  As a fan who enjoys the journey even more than the bottom-line destination, I am very thankful for that cornucopia of success.

The Steelers have had three head coaches since 1969.  Our friends to the northwest will likely hire their third head coach in 13 months.  Each of Pittsburgh's three coaches has delivered unprecedented success.  Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls, the only coach in NFL history to make that claim.  Bill Cowher followed with a 15-year career that delivered 15 home playoff games, an astounding one per season, and achieved the best record in the NFL during those 15 seasons.  Mike Tomlin is off to one of the best coaching starts in recent NFL history.  Each has hoisted at least one Lombardi.  Thanks Pittsburgh.

I want to win as much as anyone in Steeler Nation, but I know how hard that is to do.  I know that it is not an inherent birthright for the Pittsburgh Steelers, or any franchise, to succeed.  I know that with the spoils of a Super Bowl come the added weight of a bull's-eye target.  Division teams like Cincinnati, Baltimore and even Cleveland play Pittsburgh like no other team.  They want nothing more than to knock off the Steelers.  Even teams like the Kansas City Chiefs play the Pittsburgh Steelers as if it is their Super Bowl.  We need to fight that all season.  While being the champions is a hard position to defend, I am thankful that we are in that dubious position to begin with.

While I did nothing for the happenstance of being a fan of the team owned by the Rooney family, I am proud of that nonetheless.  People in stable positions aften take stability for granted.  If you think it is frustrating to figure out how to tackle kick returners or hold second-half leads, try being a fan of an owner who hires and fires general managers like bartenders, or perhaps yanks the team out of town when a more attractive suitor beckons.  There are four Rooney brothers who could have made better deals when selling their shares, but decided instead to be like their father and figure out a way to keep the franchise under the Rooney flag.  I am forever thankful for that.

Yes, we are 6-4 and no, the sky is not falling.  Last I checked those other guys are getting paychecks also.  Yes, we need to make changes and no, it won't be easy.  Those other guys are also among the finest football players in the world.  But I took a tour in my mind of every NFL city and asked myself where would I like to be if I could choose any franchise of which to be a fan.   I took into account past, present and future and all the trimmings surrounding a team to fall in love with.  My honest answer was the Pittsburgh Steelers, and for that I am eternally thankful.

Finally, I am thankful for being a proud member of Steeler Nation, the greatest fan base on the planet.  Game after game after game the television announcers make a concerted effort to point out how many Steelers' fans invade enemy stadiums.  Hines Ward scores a touchdown and it doesn't take him long to find a black and gold "86" in the end zone to give the ball to.  Opposing players take umbrage over being visitors in their own house.  Where else does that happen, in any sport on any level?  America's Team is not some self-proclaimed moniker that hs no substance.  America's Team shows up every Sunday in every stadium throughout the land.

Thanks also to Blitz and Shake and all the contributors to this site.  You have added a touch of spice to my life.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.