clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What I've learned from writing about the Pittsburgh Steelers the past five years

I've had the privilege of writing about the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past five years. During that time, I've learned a lot about myself, my fellow fans and the team itself. In this article, I'd like to share some of those learning experiences.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I've had the privilege of writing about the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past five years, and I've learned many things about myself, my fellow fans and the team itself in that time span.

Below, I'd like to share a lot of what I've learned:

I often use flawed logic

If I've read it once, I've read it a million times: "Anthony, I think your article is very well-written and well thought-out. However, it leaves a lot to be desired, and, well, I just think your logic is tragically flawed."

I'd say, I've seen a quote similar to that one associated with about 40 percent of my articles since Michael Bean asked me to be a regular contributor back in February of 2011. I've been told I use flawed logic so much, I feel like suing my mom for raising a dumb son.

"Um, I hate to be that guy, but that one word in that 2500 piece article was spelled wrong"

Of course, the spelling police don't just patrol Steelers sites such as Behind the Steel Curtain; they're out in force all over the world wide web. As a writer, when you block out about two hours of your day to work on an article and devote another hour or so throughout the remainder of that day to make sure you spelled everything right, you want to crawl under a rock, when the first thing someone notices after it's published is that you said "too" instead of "two."

And a lot of times, the person pointing an error out won't even tell you directly. He or she will do it in a snarky, smart-ass way: "Gee, I didn't know the Steelers were trying to win the Supper Bowl. They must really be hungry. Thy kingdom for an editor!"

Believe me, nobody feels worse about a spelling error than the person who committed such a crime. They make spelling errors in major newspapers. I've read books by respected authors who had many months to work on things and tons of people to help them with their cause, and still I found spelling errors and typos.

Please, show some mercy.

People don't know how to spell lose

I realize this is going to come off as a bit hypocritical, given the previous category. However, it just amazes me how, time and time again, people write "loose" when they really want to write "lose." And, again, it's not just on BTSC; I've noticed this everywhere on the Internet since I started paying attention to sports blogs and comments sections about five years ago.

Kind of puts that whole "Supper Bowl" thing in perspective, doesn't it?

People continue to fall for my April Fools articles

I write an April Fools article annually, and people fall for it every time, even though their BS radar should be activated on such a holiday. Last year's may have been the best one yet. It was about the Steelers' Super Bowls of the '70s and how, thanks to the rules that didn't exist in those days, time had diminished their significance.

I actually thought of the idea about three months before April 1, and, much like when George Constanza came up with the best solution for the roommate switch, I knew I had something good.

A lot of people went nuts, and the article produced the most hate mail I had ever received up to that point (until Mike Vick was signed, which changed everything.)  Anyway, as it pertained to Facebook, Jeff Hartman even added a disclaimer that my article was just an April Fools joke, and people still didn't pick up on it. "This article is a piece of garbage, and the author should be ashamed of himself for making such ridiculous claims!"

My brother-in-law's brother posted my article on his wall and acted like he was disgusted by it. One of his friends bought in so deeply, the next day when it was revealed to him that it was just a joke, he said, "Man, I'm so relieved. After I read this article last night, I tossed and turned in bed and then had nightmares."

To quote Dennis Miller, "That's the closest I'll ever come to Jonestown."

I'm warning you now: I will write an April Fools article this year..... and you will fall for it.

Want proof? Below is an email  I received just Monday morning from a reader who stumbled upon the article in question and really gave me the what for:

" It amazes me that you're a journalist writing about football. It amazes me even more to know that someone pays you for writing your dribble thats not fit to line the bottom of a birdcage. Personally, through various positions I've held, I've forgotten mote about football then you will ever know!

Questioning The Steelers championships, especially those of the 1970's, specifically when you refer to rules that didn't even exist in the seventies, is a complete and utter joke. What, are you a scorned Vikings, Oilers, Cowboys, or even worse a Raiders fan, or were you even around in the seventies? Are you even old enough to have witnessed the seventies games, (a decade by the way, which has on more than one occasion been referred to as the best in NFL history), as they happened?  From your prose it certainly doesn't sound like it. I doubt you've even seen (or remember) games from the eighties and nineties.

Now, why don't you go clean your thick framed plastic glasses, and use all of the technology we now possess to actually WATCH the games (the NFL network is showing every single Super Bowl in their entirety this week), then you can give your 1 cents worth. Yes, I said 1 cent, yours is not worth 2.


(name redacted) and ALL TRUE FOOTBALL FANS who know Defeo has never watched an entire football game that he comments on, especially not the seventies Super Bowls."

People often think I have an agenda when I write something

I'll sometimes write a controversial piece about the Steelers or one of their players, and someone will often make a comment such as, "Typical media propaganda! Just trying to get the people up-in-arms!" Media, really? Me? I've been dreaming about my Heinz Field press pass arriving in the mail for the past five years, but nothing so far.

People also use words like "reckless," "unfair," and "irresponsible" when referring to an article I may have written. "I think it's totally unfair to Senquez Golson and his family that you questioned his height and why the Steelers drafted him in the second round." Hey, don't look at me. It's right there in his draft profile.

The only time I ever have an agenda when I write something is when I want to make people laugh, like with an April Fools joke. All those other things I write about, I do so because they're important to me, and I want to explore them. You don't have to like it, and it's your right to tell me I suck. But agendas? No, they are not on the menu.

People often hijack the comments sections of random articles at BTSC

I once wrote an article about the Steelers rookie class of 2013 that had nothing to do with the movie True Grit (not the one starring John Wayne or the one starring Jeff Bridges), but about halfway through the comments, a "John Wayne vs. Jeff Bridges as the star of True Grit" war of words broke out that lasted about 25 comments. And then the discussion turned to the merits of John Wayne as an actor, and things really got ugly.

Of course, movie discussions are the exceptions when talking about hijacked comments sections. The rules are often the acute dislike two people have for one another. I'll write a post and discover that it has been published. Within an hour or two, I'll see that this piece has already generated 150 comments, and I'll think, "Wow, I'm good!" Then I'll read the comments and discover mostly this:

"Your logic is flawed."

"No, sir, it is you with the flawed logic."

"You wouldn't understand flawed logic if your last comment was about how you have flawed logic."

"Why are you stalking me?"

"No, sir, it is you who is stalking me."

Even though my article may be about Shaun Suisham and his accuracy on field goals between 40-49 yards, thanks to two people and their mutual disdain, we get about 50 posts of them sh** talking, along with discussions about race, religion and the tax hikes of 1971.

"Oh no! The sky is falling!"

That is just a common way a smarty-pants reader has of telling me I'm overreacting to a Steelers loss when I write something about said loss that paints the team in a negative light. Other ways people may use to describe me when I write such an article are "illogical," "unstable" and "irrational." They also tell me to relax a lot, and that I should probably step away from the ledge.

I've been told these kinds of things so many times over the years, I want to sue my doctor for under-prescribing my meds.

Sex sells

In this case, "sex" is writing negative things about the Steelers. It's not that I'm trying to sell the negative; it's just that, for example, people seem to go nuts when I write something about the Steelers being mediocre. An article like this usually generates a huge amount of traffic and about 176 comments by 9 a.m, comments that are mostly about how I should step away from the ledge and "relax!" Of course, whenever I write a piece that has to do with that awesome time I had at the game in 1986, this generates about nine views and two comments. Why? Because the readers are off visiting another writer's article and telling that person to "relax!"

Tomlin won with Cowher's players

You would think that, even in 2011, when I first started writing about the Steelers, the sentiment that current head coach Mike Tomlin won with former head coach Bill Cowher's players was a dinosaur on par with the rotary phone. Nope, that sentiment was around then, and it's still around today. Last fall, right after the Steelers lost to the Ravens thanks to Josh Scobee's two missed field goals, I was talking to some older guy at a bar about Tomlin's coaching abilities, and he said, "First of all, Tomlin won that Super Bowl with Cowher's players..." He really said that, in 2015. He could have said, "Women shouldn't have the right to vote," and it wouldn't have seemed any more outdated.

All coaches win with other coach's players. In-fact, the only man who could ever beat his chest about winning a championship with his very own players was the late Chuck Noll, who won Super Bowl XIV following the '79 season with a roster full of players he either drafted or signed as undrafted free-agents out of college.

Sadly, the "Tomlin won with Cowher's players" thought-process will never truly go away as long as Ben Roethlisberger is the quarterback. Pittsburgh could win the Super Bowl next year with Roethlisberger and a roster full of extras from the movie Necessary Roughness, and people will say, "Hey, Tomlin's got a franchise quarterback; he's supposed to win. Look at Belichick. He won with Tom Brady, extras from Miracle on Ice and a punter he found on Glee."

"Do we really have to read so much negativity?"

In his book Just Watch the Game, long-time Pittsburgh sports personality and author, John Steigerwald, talks about how, after he predicted the Cowboys would defeat the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, KDKA, the TV station he was working for at the time, got a ton of backlash from viewers who called to complain. When I read this, I thought, "'Why would people be up-in-arms over such a prediction? Dallas was a two-touchdown favorite in that game and the best team of that era."

But after writing about the team all these years, I kind of understand what old Steigy had to deal with. It doesn't matter if the Steelers are 0-4, 2-6 or really are playing with extras from Necessary Roughness; people will get mad if your writing is negative.

"Do we really have to read this? Why don't we wait until the end of the year to come to a conclusion?" First of all, you don't have to read anything. Secondly, if I waited until the end of  the season to form an opinion about the Steelers, I'd be the laziest writer of all-time.

I'd say, since I started writing about the team five years ago, I've been called a "naysayer" and/or a "gloom-and-doomer" on average of about once a week. What is a naysayer, anyway? How about a gloom-and-doomer? They sound like terms out of Medieval Times--something you'd call a suspected witch.

I'm surprised I haven't been stoned to death by a group of angry villagers by now.

Speaking of Super Bowl XXX...

Super Bowl XXX might have been the most depressing 60 minutes of football in franchise history

When I think of Super Bowl XXX (or at least that period of time in Steelers history), I smile. However, if you would poll most long-time fans, Pittsburgh's 27-17 loss to the Cowboys out in the desert in January of 1996 (you know, the game where Neil O'Donnell threw those two interceptions?) will most-likely head any list regarding the worst defeats in franchise history.

Maybe I'm weird for having fond memories of that time. But after so many years of watching the Steelers play mediocre football in the 1980s and early 1990s, and after a few depressing losses in the playoffs during Cowher's early years, getting to finally see  them in a Super Bowl for the first time since I was seven years old just felt magical.

Not only do I have a warm and fuzzy feeling when recalling the 1995 Steelers' team that rebounded from a 3-4 start to make it all the way to the ultimate game; that year almost rivals the two most-recent Super Bowl champions as my favorite time in Pittsburgh sports history.

The NFL is out to get the Steelers

Yes, despite the fact that the Steelers are one of the marquee franchises in the NFL, a team that generates huge ratings, has a huge following and usually maxes out its prime-time games each year--even after 8-8 and playoff-less seasons--people think the NFL is out to get them.

The Steelers could be playing a nondescript team like the Falcons or Jaguars, and  if calls go against them, it's because "the NFL hates the Steelers, and wants to see them loose!"

People act like it takes guts to write about certain things

"Anthony, it took guts to come on here and admit you liked the Cowboys as a kid." I've also been told I live on the edge with some of my writing. However, I just don't see it that way. To me, what would take real guts would be going into professional locker rooms and dealing with often temperamental athletes on a daily basis--especially after writing something critical about one of them.

Mr. Malor gets mad props for complimenting the Steelers

As it pertains to BTSC, Mr. Malor, a regular commenter and huge Ravens fan, is a celebrity on par with a heel wrestler. He spends countless hours sh** talking and mixing it up with Steelers fans each and every week. However, the second he comes on to issue a heart-felt compliment about the black and gold, he gets like 172 recs. "This needs to be green," someone will always say. How can that be? It's like when you would see Ray Lewis hugging Joey Porter after a game between the Ravens and Steelers years ago. "Don't hug Ray Ray, Peezy!" Remember last Wednesday, when he said you are soft?"

The NFL is really stingy with network broadcasts of old games that wind-up on Youtube

A few months ago, I discovered that someone actually uploaded that magical Steelers' overtime victory over the Oilers in the AFC Wild Card game on December 31, 1989. I watched the first half, and then bookmarked it on my computer, figuring I could go back and watch the rest of it at a later date. However, by the time I got around to that, the NFL had already caught wind of this bit of copyright infringement and had the old broadcast removed.

I get the whole copyright policy, but come on, NFL. You're a billion dollar industry with money to burn. How much are you going to lose by allowing a wild card playoff game from 26 years ago to be viewed on Youtube by a few thousand Steelers fans?

Seems petty.

The standard is the standard and high expectations

I'm not a naysaying, gloom-and-dooming, unstable, irrational, overreacting, negative writer all the time. I do have a soft, appreciative side. I'll occasionally show this side off by writing about how just making the playoffs or winning one postseason game is precious and golden.

But when I do write something like this, about 99 percent of the time, it's met with a retort about the Steelers having the most Super Bowls, the fans having high standards and that anything less than a championship is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE (obviously "less" is always italicized and "totally unacceptable" is always spelled in capital letters).

Yes, the Steelers have the most Super Bowls with six, but it's not like they're lapping the second-place teams (the Cowboys and 49ers each have five). It isn't like the New York Yankees having 27 World Series titles, followed by the Cardinals in second place with 11.

Just because the Steelers have six Super Bowls doesn't mean we fans are the only ones allowed to have expectations. The 49ers won five Super Bowls from 1981-1994. The Packers have 13 league championships all-together. Heck, if you're a 21 year old Patriots fan, and started following them in 2001 at the age of 7 (the age most kids start getting into sports), you've already witnessed your team play in 10 AFC Championship games, make it to the Super Bowl six times and win four league championships--I'm guessing your expectations are probably very high, as are your standards.

Some Steelers fans are just gonna Steeler

I'll sometimes watch a football game with my mom, and she'll say, "Didn't you have figurines of the Broncos when you were a kid?" Yes, I did, as well as many others. I didn't think I was unique in that regard, that is until I started writing about the home team online. As soon as the Steelers season is over, a ton of fans simply shut-down their football shop until the following training camp.

Don't you want to watch the rest of the playoffs? "Don't care." Don't you want to watch the Super Bowl? "Don't care. Just get me to the draft."

Speaking of the draft...

Steelers fans really hate the idea of drafting a cornerback in the first round

It's true that a lot of Steelers fans have been wanting the team to draft a cornerback in the first round for years. However, for every fan that has desired to see a corner as the first pick over the past few seasons, there has been at least one who has threatened bodily harm on anyone who dares to discuss the possibility.

What if this corner is the next Rod Woodson? "Who cares! He won't meet the more pressing-need of having my draft day desires instantly satisfied."

Ever see one of those commercials about the 60 year old parent talking to his or her 40 year old child about life insurance? That's how a lot of fans will react over the next few months to the idea of the Steelers drafting a cornerback with the 25th pick of the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

"Really, a corner? Do we have to talk about this now? I mean, it's the holidays. Can't we keep analyzing that projected top-five pass-rusher the Steelers have no realistic chance of taking? I love his motor!"

I'm not sure if Steelers fans know the official names of any other teams in the NFL

Cheatriots, Donkeys, Chefs, Cryboys/Cowgirls, Clowns, Bungholes and, of course, Ratbirds. I was hoping for a Pittsburgh vs. Carolina Super Bowl match-up just so I could see what derogatory name fans would come up with for the Panthers...second thought, that probably would have been ugly (Panthers are cats--read between the lines).

Steeler Nation is really world-wide

Since I've been writing about the team, it's just been awe-inspiring to discover how many people from all around the world--many who have never even set foot in Pittsburgh--are as much in-love with the Steelers as a hometown kid such as Yours truly. They say the Steelers travel well, and that's true. But the fans don't always travel to see the Steelers. Often-times, the Steelers travel to see their fans.

I wouldn't have it any other way

As far as semi-hobbies go, the past five years have been a blast. I've learned so much from my fellow writers and the readers...what a wealth of knowledge so many of them are. I mean, the football IQ so many fans have matches or surpasses the talking heads of the ESPNs of the world, and it often manifests itself in fanposts and in the comments sections.

There's no team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the fact that I've been able to write about them on the greatest fan site around has truly been a blessing.

Here's to  the next five years and beyond.

Go Steelers!