Player: Eric O’Connell , 24 years old
School: St. John’s University
Overview of the Player: It was probably around the fall of 2002 when I was in the fifth grade. I was playing football after school with some of the kids in my neighborhood, back when kids actually played outdoors without their phones. I was always bigger and faster than most kids my age so after another run where even the older kids couldn’t bring me down, one of my friend’s older brothers said, “Wow Eric’s like ‘The Bus’!”
“Who’s the Bus?”
“Jerome Bettis, the running back for the Steelers”.
And that’s how Jerome Bettis became my favorite player, and I became a Steelers fan. At first, it seemed like I made a terrible choice. Growing up in Connecticut I was surrounded by Patriots fans and watched them win two titles back-to-back just as I was beginning as a Steelers fan, but I was already hooked and stayed the course. Since I was clearly a bit outside of the usual market I dedicated myself to learning as much as I could about my new favorite team. I’ve consumed countless books, dvds, articles, and other media about the Steelers, and Pittsburgh itself, to build as deep an understanding of the team as someone not in the area could.
As I grew older my passion for the Steelers only intensified and I was rewarded with seeing two Super Bowl Championships along with another Super Bowl appearance. I even wore my Steelers tie in my high school graduation photo. When it came time to go to college I chose St. John’s University in Queens, New York. While I still obviously wasn’t in the Steelers normal market, I was in a large diverse school with fans from teams all over the country. Right off campus there was a sports bar called the Sly Fox. Starting my freshman year every Sunday in the fall I would be seated there with a large contingent of regulars who rooted for different teams. Since we saw each other so often I made quite a few friends from this, something I can also attribute in a roundabout way to my Steelers fandom aiding my personal life. Unfortunately, that freshman year ended with the Steelers losing to the Packers in the Super Bowl and as a result of a bet I had to shave my hair into a Mohawk. This is where the Steelers negatively impacted my personal life.
During the 2011 season right after the Tebow loss I was scrolling the internet looking for perspective from other depressed Steelers fans. That’s when I found BTSC. What really drew me in was the quality of work from the writers along with the fan base’s knowledge in general. I mean this was a website where the comment section was not only worth reading, but informative! At school I was studying journalism with a focus toward sports journalism so I was very pleasantly surprised to find BTSC and the rest of the SB Nation network. From the day I found BTSC I was a regular reader but I never once commented on anything, I just kind of lurked. That all changed a few months ago when I saw Jeff’s post about looking for new writers so I sent him an email and, well, here I am. I’ve really enjoyed writing here alongside the other talented members of the team and I always feel like I learn something new every article read.
The rest of my family on both sides is from New York so when it comes to other sports besides football I’m an avid fan of the Yankees and Rangers. In fact, besides the Steelers season I’m probably most excited for hockey to be back, despite how terrible I suspect the Rangers are about to be. I would very much like for the Pens to return Carl Hagelin to his proper owners ASAP.
Besides sports I’m an avid movie watcher and reader. I’m about 200 pages into The Given Day by Dennis Lehane and highly recommend it so far. I’ll beat anyone in Harry Potter trivia, all challengers welcome. Same goes for James Bond trivia (I’ll save you time...my rankings are: 1. Connery 2. Craig 3. Brosnan 4. Lazenby 5. Moore 6. Dalton). I enjoy the musical stylings of Third Eye Blind, Eminem, AC/DC and the Zac Brown Band…so basically I’m all over the place in that regard. If it sounds good I’ll listen to it, no disrespect meant to Le’Veon Bell. I’m also a big standup comedy fan, I think of jokes by Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle and Brian Regan about once a day and scare the people in Starbucks when I start laughing to myself in line. I’m working on that. Other than that I’m pretty laid back so anything else you want to know just ask! I’m happy to be writing here among these talented writers and knowledgeable fans and can’t wait for football!
Hey you’re reading this I did something right
I may have the worst spelling of any journalism major ever
Can’t make a layup in pickup basketball