I am one of the fortunate people who contribute to this site, be it as a writer or as a commentor. I was blessed to be born in the most beautiful place in America: the Laurel Highlands of southwest Pennsylvania.
The exceptionally picturesque city of Pittsburgh lies just outside the western edge of the Highlands, and the urban bustle is an exception to the acres and acres and acres of lush, green forest that make up that quadrant of the state. If you’ve ever made the journey to Saint Vincent College for training camp, no matter what direction you came from, you’ve seen the gorgeous wilderness of the Highlands.
I spent the first seven years of my life sharing a property with a Pennsylvania born-and-raised grandmother who hated the Steelers — still does, actually — simply because she once found Terry Bradshaw to be annoying. While I can see how that might have come to be, I’m happy my father made every effort to ensure I’d be raised in a Steelers household. I’m also happy that my mother, who isn’t a particular fan of any sport, chose not to resist.
I’m certain, though, that neither of them foresaw the mania they were fostering.
It started to run deep around the time I turned twelve. Bill Cowher had just become the Steelers’ coach, and the hype around the team was beginning to grow after a decade of doldrums, ho-hum and almost. There was an excitement with the team again, and it had an impact on me.
Fast-forward about six years to college, where I (eventually) settled on English as a major, with a focus on journalism. As soon as I could, I began writing for The Review, the University of Delaware’s newspaper — the same, national award-winning periodical that turned out writers like Jeff Pearlman, who spent several years writing for Sports Illustrated, Newsday and ESPN.com; and my friend, Jeff Gluck, who currently writes for USA Today.
Over the course of a little over a year, I would go from writer to copy editor to City News Editor for the paper. I also wrote computer game reviews for several sites, served as an editor for Gamers.com, and was named Editor-in-Chief of a small marketing e-zine. The fact so many of you have never heard of an “e-zine” (electronic magazine) shows how old I really am. That is, assuming the Pearlman reference didn’t already tip my hand.
Life went a different direction for a while after that, as I veered away from journalism and dove into a seemingly incongruous career as a software engineer. But the writing itch never truly gets scratched. In late 2007, I began writing for The Steel Tradition, which covered the Steelers for the now-defunct Most Valuable Network. After that, I maintained a series of small Steelers blogs, including one named Big Snack’s Sweatsocks, an homage to Casey Hampton.
I found Behind the Steel Curtain near the beginning of the 2010 season, and had the privilege of walking through what nearly became our Seventh Heaven with some really excellent people. If I recall, that wasn’t long before the site began transitioning editorial duties from founder Michael Bean to Neal Coolong.
Not long after Jeff Hartman, our current Fearless Leader, took the reins, I was asked to cover the Steelers for Rants Sports. On the eve of accepting the invitation, I reached out to Jeff on a whim to see if he was looking for some new talent. He was, and now I’ve been here for about 15 months as a staff writer. It has led me down some really cool paths, from becoming a solid draft evaluator to conducting a one-on-one interview with legendary Steelers linebacker and Hall-of-Famer Jack Ham.
Over the last five years, I’ve also begun work on a large number of books. One of these days, I’ll get around to finishing one before the next big idea takes over.
There’s more to me than words, though. I’m married to a beautiful woman who has adopted my own Steelers mania, and I’ve got three kids who are all Steelers fans. In fact, two of them had Terrible Towels in their hospital bassinets when they were born. In what little spare time I have, I play some video games and do a lot of running. I’ve run a few half-marathons, and I am currently training for a full marathon in November.
I now live in a small town just east of Raleigh, North Carolina, but I will never forget my roots. I get back to Pennsylvania from time to time — this weekend, as a matter of fact. You can take the boy out of the Laurel Highlands, but you can never take the Laurel Highlands out of the boy. It’s terribly cliche, I know. But there’s absolutely no place on Earth I’d rather be than the rolling forests of rural, southwest Pennsylvania.
And there’s no team I’d rather obsess over than the Steelers.