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How my family recently brought out the true Steelers fan in me

Memories. Those are what fuels my love and passion for the Steelers. My family is a big part of that, and those folks recently helped me realize how excited I am for the start of the 2021 campaign.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

I was talking to my cousin while at another cousin’s high school graduation party on Sunday when we got on the subject of Steelers second-round pick tight end, Pat Freiermuth, from Penn State.

We were discussing what I felt was Freiermuth’s cocky attitude and how I thought the Steelers needed that kind of arrogance at the position for once. In fact, I said something along the lines of, “We need one of those cocky Travis Kelce types on our side for a change, someone who can cause headaches for the opposing defense instead of the other way around.”

Just to clue you in, the takeaway from my previous paragraph was that I said “we” when discussing the Steelers. I said, “our side,” too. I can’t remember the last time I said “we,” “us” or “our” when talking about my favorite professional football team. What’s next, am I going to start saying “yinz,” Pittsburgh’s word for “y’all”, and something that hasn’t unironically been uttered by yours truly since about the age of 20?

I often give people a hard time for their use of “we” when talking about the Steelers in a comment section or on social media. “‘We’ didn’t give JuJu Smith-Schuster a new contract,” is an example of something I may have smugly said to a person or two in the recent past.

Maybe that’s because I’m out of touch with what it means to be an actual Steelers fan these days. I guess that’s where family comes into the mix. Those folks often remind me of what’s so special about following a sports team with all of your heart and soul. After all, memories are really my fuel of choice when writing about the Steelers. It’s what drives me.

If I had to rely on stats, grades and rankings to power my love for the game of football, I may have switched to another entertainment option years ago.

Family is basically what does it for me and thinking back to those times as a kid—and let’s be real, even as an adult—when I acted totally uninhibited around family members as I watched a critical Steelers’ game reach its climax.

I didn’t care what anyone thought, and nobody seemed all that interested in giving me a hard time about my pacing (always pacing) when all was said and done. They knew because they were feeling it, too.

Sports just does that to you when you really, really care.

Anyway, there’s a certain point every summer when a very real and exciting realization hits me out of the blue: football season is right around the bend.

I never know what will trigger this brief feeling of total euphoria. It could be the smell of freshly cut grass, the sight of an empty high school football field or even a random commercial that includes some famous NFL Films tune from back in the day.

But the reason I get so excited by the thought of the upcoming NFL season is because of the great Steelers memories that come flooding back into my mind at that very moment.

Remember January 10 and how miserable you felt after the Steelers 2020 campaign came to a crashing halt at the hands of the Browns in the wildcard playoff game at Heinz Field? Not only were those Super Bowl hopes dashed, but one of your favorite pastimes would have to be put to bed for a long time.

Six months until training camp. Seven months until the preseason. Eight months until the start of the 2021 regular season.

Yuck!

Here we are, though. It’s June 28 as I’m typing this sentence. We’re so close to the start of the next Steelers season.

It was my family that triggered my excitement for the upcoming football season this time around. To reiterate, I’ve made a lot of great Steelers memories with those folks over the years.

I can’t wait to make some more in the not-so-distant future. Here ‘we’ go, Steelers, here ‘we’ go!