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The pain of a Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss doesn’t end on game day

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ disturbing performance thus far this season deserves all the criticism it’s received, but the critiques probably would prove more effective if they were a bit more constructive.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

One of my son’s best friends is a talented young man who just happens to be autistic. He’s a college student and a impressive anime artist. You really wouldn’t know he was autistic unless you got to spend some time getting to know him, then you’d realize he has difficulty communicating with others. He’s gearing his college education with consideration for his artistic abilities, but he’s also taking public speaking classes to help improve his communications skills. That happens to be a skill which we, as Steelers fans, could all look to improve on.

I’ve always hated every Steelers’ loss since I was a kid, but I admit I hate them even more now. Each Steelers’ loss brings out the absolute worst in our fan base. The comment boards light up with disgruntled fans wanting to voice their displeasure, and that’s usually a good thing. That’s what BTSC and other Black-and-gold sites are for — a place were we can all come together and discuss all things Steelers, both good and bad. Many times we will voice our opinions and realize we’re not alone — that others are seeing the same deficiencies and shortcomings we are. This can have a therapeutic effect and help each person vent their frustrations. Often times you’ll experience a special kinship with other commenters and learn to truly value their insights.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans are one of the most knowledgeable fan bases in all the NFL, without a doubt. We are also one of the most passionate groups around. Each loss is painful in is own way, but some hurt worse than others.

Losing to the New England Patriots, in what has been a yearly occurrence, always stings — but usually I could chalk it up to being defeated by a superior opponent. That’s why last season’s loss was so extremely painful, because I felt like the Steelers were the superior team. Maybe Tom Brady would have driven the team down the field for another last-second, game-winning play if the instant replay officials would have let Jesse James’ touchdown catch stand as it was called on the field — but alas, we’ll never know. It sure would have made the loss a little easier for me to accept. I can handle the Steelers being beaten by a superior opponent, but I can’t accept losing due to a lack of effort on the field or being out-coached.

Up to that point, I thought the Steelers were playing with house money last season. Though apparently most fans failed to appreciate it, seemingly every break or bounce of the ball went the Steelers’ way last year. I even felt fortunate when Ryan Shazier’s injury didn’t result with him being paralyzed, or worse. With every last-second drive, game-winning field goal, miraculous sideline, toe-dragging catch, backup quarterback faced and weakened opponent defeated, it just seemed like the Steelers were a team of destiny. As things turned out, though, the Steelers squandered a great opportunity last year.

Boy how times have changed.

This season has been off-kilter from the start. Preseason injuries and new faces in new places affected team chemistry right off the bat. Bell’s continued absence, the self-inflicted national title of ‘Team Turmoil’ and the inability to get on the same page as a team has the Steelers looking like anything but a team of destiny at the moment. Nothing has come easy for this team, or for the fans. But no matter how this season plays out, real Steelers fans will continue to love the Steelers, while the fair-weather fans will cut and run like a bunch of rats from a sinking ship.

It’s easy to be a fan when your team is playing well and winning games. Anybody can do that. This is another situation where football imitates life. If you want to find out who your real friends are, wait for tough times to happen in your life. When you might not be your fun-loving self or might need a shoulder to lean on or perhaps an understanding ear to listen. Your real friends will be there to lift you up and carry you forward if need be until you find your footing. Your fake friends will be strangely absent — suddenly hard to find.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are struggling mightily at the moment. They are being outplayed, outclassed, and out-coached on a weekly basis. They’re absolutely no fun to watch and even harder to root for this season. Their off-field antics are hard to defend, but they’re still our team and we must continue to support the individuals trying their best to turn this season around. I totally understand criticism, it’s more than warranted in this situation, but let us try to at least be constructive when we do. You know the old saying, “You attract more flies with honey than you do vinegar.”

I’m not on Twitter, but I saw somewhere that Stephon Tuitt called out some especially critical fans after the game Sunday night on social media. He said something to the effect that, if we claim to be Steelers fans, then we’re all in this together and we all need to improve — the fans included. First, let me say I was happy to hear from him because he was nowhere to be found during the game (that might not have been constructive, but it was my attempt to bring a little humor to this subject). You know what — he actually has a point. If we’re all part of Steelers Nation, then we’re a member of a family and family doesn’t run away during hard times. Family supports, encourages, and fights for each other until the bitter end.

One thing that Steelers Nation should want to avoid is to ever resemble Dallas Cowboy fans. If you’ve ever worked with, went to school with, or grown up with Cowboys fans, you know what I’m talking about. They are the definition of fair-weather fans. When the Cowboys are winning, you see them everywhere. They can’t stop crowing about how great the team is and how they’re going to win the Super Bowl. However, when the team is losing, they’re nowhere to be found.

Please Steelers Nation, we don’t ever want to become that. We are better than that. I’m not saying don’t voice your displeasure when the product on the field doesn’t meet the franchise standards, but merely suggesting to temper your comments with a modicum of logic and intelligence.

Never stop believing and as always, Go Steelers!