Time to break out the credentials: I’ve been a Steelers’ fan since 1980. When I finally eclipsed the 40-year mark, last season, I decided to apply to be the Steelers’ next general manager. I haven’t heard back yet, but then, they’re probably just waiting for Kevin Colbert to get on with his life’s work before they begin the interview process.
Actually, I always thought I was a knowledgeable fan of all things Steelers, that is until I discovered this here site about 11 years ago. It wasn’t long after that when I realized I had a lot to learn about the team, the history and the X’s and O’s.
Seriously, though, it was the X’s and O’s that really made me feel inferior. “You don’t know how to break down film,” they’d say to me way back when...and today. I still don’t know how to break down film. How does this happen? Do I need to rent a truck and go pick up the film? What happens after I break down the film? What do I do with it? Is there a test? An essay? Do I have to return the film once I’m done? Is there a late fee?
That was just my way of saying I don’t really care all that much about breaking down film. Schemes? Whatever. As I said many times before, that’s not what does it for me it comes to the Steelers and football.
I do like to think I have a vast knowledge of the history of the sport, thanks to the many years I spent watching NFL Films productions while growing up. That’s how I cut my teeth on the game of football, actually. I’m proud of that knowledge. Does that make me an expert on football? I’d like to think it does a little. After all, there are a lot of “scheme” folks out there who are like, “And then the Steelers hired a guy named Chuck Knoll in 1949....”
There’s something to be said for knowing a good bit of the history of the NFL.
I think I know most of the rules, too. For example, I knew before Barry Foster did that he was allowing the 49ers to scoop up a live football during a kickoff in a Steelers game at Candlestick Park way back in 1990.
I’m pretty good with logistics, too.
I know that whenever an NFC team comes to Heinz Field for a 1 p.m. or 4:15 p.m. game on a Sunday afternoon, it will be televised on Fox. Also, I’m aware that whenever Pittsburgh travels to play an NFC team at 1 p.m. or 4:15 p.m. on a Sunday, it will be broadcast on CBS (there have been some tweaks in recent years, but the formula has remained the same since I was a lad).
I’ve always understood playoff seeds. For example, if two plays seven in the wildcard round, that means three will play six, while four will play five (the combination of nine never changes on Wildcard Weekend). You don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain this to my knowledgeable, film-type friends over the years. “So, is one going to play two this weekend?” “No! One is playing golf. How many times do I have to tell you that? Are you sure you know what Cover 3 is?”
The point I’m trying to make with this article is, don’t let anyone question your knowledge of the Steelers/football because your specialty might be different than there's.
Do you think Chris Berman knows how to break down defenses? No, but he’s made a career out of saying things like, “Andre “Bad Moon” Rison,” while doing his best Howard Cosell impression.
Andy Russell used to make fun of Myron Cope for his inability to read offenses and defenses. According to Cope, he once said to Steelers legend, Ernie Stautner, his old drinking buddy, “I might not know X’s and O’s, but I can tell when a guy can run, throw, catch or tackle.” Stautner replied, “Cope, that’s all the bleep you gotta know!” (Stautner was an old tough guy, so you probably respect that opinion.)
You be you when watching the Steelers or writing/podcasting about them in 2021. If you want to paint your face like David Puddy, that’s fine. If you want to tabulate every single time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes a five-step drop vs. a seven-step drop before inputting the numbers into some sort of database for future reference, well, that would be kind of weird, but you do your thing.
Nobody’s truly the football expert of all football experts. Not even the guy with the greatest football knowledge of them all, the man who lives in the big, shiny castle way up on Green Mountain (located right off the parkway, across from Vincent’s—great pizza), is perfect. True, he might have the best football experts in the land on his show each year, including the Disco Inferno, but I’m sure there are areas of the game of football that he needs to brush up on every now and then.
Just because I live in a shack a couple of miles away in Craftvalley, that doesn’t necessarily mean his knowledge is vastly superior to mine.
To reiterate, we all have parts of the game of football that we truly excel at. I love the history and theater of the sport. Others are all about schemes and data. Heck, some just love to play beer pong and fall asleep before halftime.
Again, there’s no one true way to be a fan or expert of the Steelers or the game of football. Besides, if you put the history person, the scheme person and the passed out person in the same room, there’s at least a 33 percent chance the scheme person will scream, “Give him the touchdown!” on a Hail Mary pass where the receiver catches the ball and is tackled six yards short of the end zone.
You be you, Steeler fan.