Have you ever gotten into a fight over the Pittsburgh Steelers?
And I don't mean against a Pittsburgh Steeler; that would have obviously ended poorly for you--well, unless it was against Dri Archer. I'm also not talking about "fighting" with someone on the Internet, either, because that happens so much regarding sports, it's almost second-nature. "The Steelers really look awful today!" "Oh yeah? Your mother looks even worse!"
What I'm actually referring to is a physical confrontation with another person who may also be a fan of the Steelers but is more likely to be a fan of their opponents that particular day.
Late last year, I traveled to Cincinnati with a group of fellow Steelers fans to watch the team ultimately blow-out the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, 42-21. The victory proved to be the catalyst that propelled Pittsburgh to its first AFC North title (and playoff appearance) in three years, and it was a mighty fun afternoon. The evening was almost as much fun, as my group and I celebrated at the bar in the Holiday Inn in Covington, Kentucky, where we stayed that weekend.
However, during the course of my group's celebration, a Bengals fan came on the scene (like my group, he appeared to have had a few), and he started talking trash about the Steelers and how Cincinnati still had a slight lead in the AFC North and had won the division twice since 2009. Someone from my group chimed in and reminded this Bengals fan about Pittsburgh's two most-recent Super Bowl titles (apparently, this fan didn't know the difference between qualifying for the Olympics and bringing home the gold medal), and that's when things really began to get heated. This Bengals fan and the guy from my group kept going back and forth, and it looked like things could get physical. In-fact, another guy from my group looked over to the rest of us and said something along the lines of, "This dude (the Bengals fan) is about to get his a** beat." What he meant by that was, he was about to join his buddy in teaching this Bengals fan a lesson in Steelers football.
I sat there, thinking, "What if something happens? Am I supposed to fight, too?"
Thankfully, nothing came of this potential disaster, and things eventually calmed down.
My two bosses often go to Steelers games at Heinz Field. Back in 2009, after the Bengals defeated Pittsburgh, 18-12, to complete the season-sweep, my bosses were outside the stadium waiting to board the Gateway Clipper boat back to Station Square. There were hundreds of other Steelers fans waiting to do the same, and on a nearby pedestrian overpass, a Bengals faithful (probably one that had just had a few) began taunting the crowd and gleefully talking trash about his team's season-sweep. After a few warnings from the crowd, several Steelers fans decided to converge on this guy and proceeded to pummel him until he ran away.
I wonder who was dumber in that instance: The Steelers fans who assaulted a guy over a football team, or the Bengals fan who thought it would be funny to incite a crowd of hundreds of drunken "enemies" that were wearing face paint, black and gold beads and James Harrison jerseys?
Back to that question I asked myself that night in Covington, Kentucky. No, I wouldn't have fought that trash-talking Bengals fan. For one thing, I'm over 40. For another thing, I'm pretty sure Mike Tomlin wasn't going to give me a game ball for my efforts.
I also doubt Kevin Colbert would have bailed me out of jail that night or that Art Rooney II would have been my representing attorney.
Not to sound like a self-righteous snob, but I can't see myself ever fighting over a sports team--at least not as an adult. When you're a kid, you're looking for something to belong and relate to--whether it be a group of friends or a sports team--and I can see getting into a fight that started after a disagreement over someone's batting average.
But when you're grown, why on earth would you bother?
I just find it funny that we as fans can spend an entire week arguing about sports and, when it comes to the Internet, making it so personal that we're saying things to one another that would probably lead to a fight the second we ever laid eyes on each other. Yet, the players we're fighting over are out there on the field, hugging before and after the game and probably making offseason vacation plans.
So, my question is (and this is no way a means to garner page views or traffic--I really want to know), have you ever gotten into an actual physical confrontation over the Pittsburgh Steelers?