New Year’s resolutions are usually a personal endeavor, but after another season of hot and toxic social media takes, Steelers Nation could afford a little self-improvement. I’m not asking anyone to put down their Sarris pretzels, but consider these changes in 2024.
Steelers twitter’s New Year’s resolution should be to stop being unhinged— catie (@steelgatorcatie) December 31, 2023
1. Eat Less Salt
It’s only natural for our blood pressure to rise on game day, but every week, I see tweets and comments from fans with outrage that’s oversized for the moment. The result of a pre-game coin flip shouldn’t cause a conniption fit. A first-quarter performance shouldn’t have you reaching for your Diovan. Why are so many willing to blow a fuse in the first half?
Who needs this shirt pic.twitter.com/8v3M077Q2F— J ey Bag f D nuts (@joeybagovdonuts) December 30, 2023
More and more games are decided in the fourth quarter. It’s a trend that’s been so obvious, that major publishers like the Washington Post and the New York Times have reported on it. For Steelers fans, it’s been a reality for decades. In the Bill Cowher era, the term was “60 Minute Men.” The philosophy was that It didn’t matter what happened in the first 58 minutes of the game, or the first 58:58, it took 60 minutes (or more) to win a football game.
Mike Tomlin put his own spin on the idea, saying “Steelers football is 60 minutes. It’s never gonna be pretty. Throw style points out the window. But these guys will fight ‘til the end.” If you find yourself becoming apoplectic and giving up on the team before the fourth quarter, it’s time to sub out the wings and fries for chicken breast with Red Hot.
2. Read more Steelers history
I realize for Gen Z fans, this is the worst Steelers era of their lives, but it’s still been pretty good. Sure, Pittsburgh hasn’t had a playoff win in six seasons, but they also have the eighth-best win percentage in that same time. This generation’s nadir doesn’t compare with the low points of the Noll and Cowher eras.
From 1985-1988, Pittsburgh not only missed the playoffs for four straight years, they put up records of 7-9, 6-10, 8-7, and 5-11, never finishing better than third in the division in that span. That was a sorry era that saw Steelers pride greatly diminish across the fanbase. I still remember Fayette Tire in Uniontown re-painting the giant Steeler statue back to Paul Bunyan. You can read all about this era, specifically the 1988 season in the book Lost Sundays.
Bill Cowher’s teams missed the playoffs in ‘98, ‘99, and 2000, putting up records of 7-9, 6-10, and 9-7. Then they went 6-10 again in 2003. A few good reads on this era include Cowher’s memoir Heart and Steel or Decade of Power from the PPG. Compare those years to Tomlin’s current low point. No playoff wins in six seasons, but three playoff appearances, including in 2021 when the Steelers had its worst run defense in team history. Plus, storybook seasons in 2019 (the Duck/Mase year) and 2022 (Kenny’s rookie turnaround), where Pittsburgh was eliminated from the post-season in the final week.
3. Practice empathy
Professional athletes and coaches are public figures, so criticism comes with the territory, but hate should not. Too often fans forget that they’re also actual persons who have actual feelings, just like any of us. Anyone who watched Terry Bradshaw’s HBO special Going Deep realizes that he still holds resentment towards Steelers fans and the media who called him dumb decades ago. Just a season ago, fans sent death threats to Kevin Dotson. Then it happened again this season to Miles Killebrew. In the past week, we learned Rashard Mendenhall still deals with hate on a daily basis, because of his Super Bowl XLV fumble.
This man is still in pain. It’s not right. I encourage the Steelers fanbase to watch the entire episode. I just finished it. You can feel his desperation to heal and be free from the hate and blame as the reason why they lost the Super Bowl. It’s been 12 years.— Melissa (@mdrizzy22) December 29, 2023
Let him heal. https://t.co/YouP1Ie3td
Who cares if he’s said crazy things about UOsama Bin Laden or a segregated Pro Bowl, or even if he flaked on a game back in 2012? If anyone is seeking out a player or coach to wish them ill will, it doesn’t just make them a bad fan or a bad sport, it makes them a bad person. In 2024, we could all benefit from treating strangers the way we would like to be treated, especially if they’re part of a team we claim to root for.
Kyle Chrise is the host of the Steelers podcast “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”