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A Letter From The Editor: What makes a die hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan?

In this week’s letter, I wonder what are the criteria to claim to be a die hard black-and-gold fan.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

There are certain public situations which make my wife cringe when I am around. These vary in significance and stature, but one of the most severe is when I am around someone who says, “I’m a die hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan!”

The reason for the awkwardness is my wife is always concerned they won’t match my level of fandom/knowledge.

Before I go any further, I should say that my current situation is different than most. I am someone who is paid to write about the team on a daily basis. Therefore, I am forced to know all the draft picks, where they played college football, those on the 53-man roster bubble and the last time the Steelers had a losing season, 2003.

I have to know these is part of my job. But it makes me wonder what actually makes someone a die hard fan? What is the criteria?

We have all been around the fan who is wearing a Rod Woodson jersey and declares before the game starts they are the biggest Steelers fan of them all. When the kickoff occurs disappointment kicks in when they don’t even know any wide receivers not named JuJu Smith-Schuster, which they promptly butcher the last name...among many others.

You know, the fan who constantly yelled “Martavious Bryant” at the television screen while pining for more “Cowher Power”.

I have no problem with these fans. If you support the black-and-gold, then you are part of the family. You might be a long lost cousin, but you are still in the family. But this brings me back to the question at hand. What is the criteria to declare yourself a die hard fan?

Before getting into that, let me first tell you a list of things I don’t think make you a die hard fan. Having any of these doesn’t mean you aren’t a fan, but, in my opinion, doesn’t give you a free pass into the ‘die hard’ club:

  • The number of jerseys you own
  • Whether you have a ton of Steelers garb on your vehicle
  • Having a man cave with Steelers stuff in it
  • Getting a Steelers tattoo

I could go on, but you get the picture. But defining what a die hard Steelers fan does look like is even more difficult. Why? Because it is different for everyone. For me, the criteria is always based more on knowledge than anything else.

When I started writing here, not as the editor but as a contributor, it was a truly humbling experience. This site houses the most knowledgeable readers/commenters on the internet. They will bring any newbie to his/her knees, but will always build them back up and encourage them to continue to comment and be a part of this rabid Steelers community.

The people who frequent BTSC throughout the year are most definitely die hards. There is no offseason for these fans. They don’t disappear during the offseason and then get re-engaged when September rolls around, but are there for free agency, the draft, OTAs, minicamp and then training camp. No off days.

To me, there is nothing more awesome than meeting someone who is a Steelers fan who knows the team as well as I do. Someone who can talk at length about the battle at right tackle, knows who used to play there, where they went via trade, what the compensation was and who is among those vying for the one vacant spot on the Steelers’ offensive line.

I leave those discussions thinking, “Now that guy/gal is a die hard fan.”

Again, I don’t put down fans who don’t know all nine drafted players in the 2019 NFL Draft, or how T.J. Watt consumes roughly 5,000 calories a day in the offseason to prepare him for the rigors of an NFL season. Instead, I just encourage them to find the site, to read the site and maybe become a part of our close knit community.

We have all had these interactions with fellow fans before, but I wonder...what is your criteria for someone who could be labeled a die hard fan? Let me know in the comment section below! I look forward to reading your responses!