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Being a Steelers fan for 40-plus years isn’t the amazing feat I thought it would be

I’ve been a Steelers fan for 40-plus years, and you know what? It’s not that big of a deal.

NFL: Super Bowl XLIII-Pittsburgh Steelers vs Arizona Cardinals Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I started following the Steelers in January of 1980 at the age of 7.

It took many years before I could finally say it and tell people I did it, and I just couldn’t wait until 2019 (or maybe 2020?) to really shove it in the faces of younger Steelers fans.

Shove what in the faces of punk Steelers fans? The fact that I had been following the team for 40 years. I grew up hearing that kind of thing from my elders (man, imagine trying to follow the Steelers in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s), and I thought there had to be some sort of mystical power to it that I could hold over the heads of youngsters once I got to that point in my life.

Sadly, even though I was 47 (or maybe 48?) when the 40-year thing officially kicked in, I was plagued with a bout of imposter syndrome. I mean, who was I, a wet-behind-the-years late-40ssomething, to impart smug wisdom to the youth of Steelers Nation?

But I’m 51 now, which means I’m more than comfortable with saying old-people things.

Some examples:

“My taxes paid for these roads!”

“That was back when music was music.”

“Maybe you were watching a different game than me.”

“I can’t do that, I’m 51!”

“Thank you for taking my call. I wrote a Steelers song that I’d like to sing for your listeners.”

And, my favorite: “No, I’m not coming out tonight.” (I can also get away with saying, “I can’t do that, I’m 51!”)

Anyway, I’m now very confident in telling anyone who will listen that I’ve been following the Steelers for OVER 40 years. The only problem with that is it’s not the flex I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because I’m not a long-time season ticket holder, but it just doesn’t seem all that impressive.

Perhaps if I recalled the 1970s and got to witness the mastery and dominance of Swann, Stallworth, Lambert, Bradshaw, Mean Joe, etc. as they led the Steelers to four Lombardi Trophies. Maybe if I remembered the Immaculate Reception in 1972 or Lynn Swann’s amazing sideline catch and/or tipped catch in Super Bowl X.

But I’ve seen some pretty cool things since January of 1980. I watched Super Bowl XIV between the Steelers and Rams in its entirety.

I saw Pittsburgh knock off the Broncos at Mile High Stadium in a divisional-round playoff game in 1984.

I jumped for joy as Gary Anderson kicked a 50-yard field goal to defeat the hated Houston Oilers in a wildcard game down in the Astrodome that closed out the decade of the ‘80s.

I was there for the 1990s and Cowher Power!

I survived Jim Harbaugh’s Hail Mary pass on the final play of the 1995/1996 AFC title game at old Three Rivers Stadium.

I also survived Neil O’Donnell’s two interceptions to Larry Brown in the second half of Super Bowl XXX two weeks later.

I didn't have a heart attack during the wild wildcard victory over the Browns at Heinz Field following the 2002 regular season.

I witnessed Ben Roethlisberger’s Week 2 debut in 2004 followed by his magical rookie campaign that helped lead the Steelers to a 15-1 record.

I jumped out of my seat one year and change later when Jerome Bettis trucked Brian Urlacher on the way to a touchdown that jumpstarted a date with destiny.

Weeks later, I witnessed the Steelers, as the sixth seed in the AFC, march through the postseason and clinch a berth in Super Bowl XL.

Speaking of which, I cheered as Roethlisberger found Hines Ward on third and 28; Fast Willie ran untouched for 75 yards; and Antwaan Randle El connected with Ward on the Thumb-clinching receiver option touchdown pass. (These are three things that those whiny Seahawks fans always fail to mention.)

I witnessed history in 2007 when Mike Tomlin was hired as the new head coach.

A year and change later, I watched as Santonio Holmes had perhaps the most clutch postseason in franchise history while leading the Steelers to a record-setting sixth Lombardi.

Along the way, I also witnessed Troy Polamalu take one to the house in the AFC title game; James Harrison somehow manage to rumble 100 yards for a score in Super Bowl XLIII; and Ben hit 10 in the closing seconds of that very-same Super Bowl.

I’ve seen many things since that historic night, enough ups and downs to make me a hardened and wise fan.

But am I really all that hardened and wise?

Probably not.

As it turns out, watching a football team for 40-plus years ain’t that much different than eating pizza for 40-plus years.

It’s fun as hell but really not something to hold over the youth of America.