As I sit here tonight, nervous already about a little game tomorrow I have no control over whatsoever, I started thinking about football and what it has meant to me and my family.
When you are born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, it’s sorta in your DNA to be a football fan, and obviously most people (who are smart) are Steelers fans. Everyone–girls and boys, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, nuns and priests, steelworkers and doctors–EVERYONE spends football season in front of the television or trekking to the city to tailgate, yell and scream for the men in black and gold. (now we call it yellow?)
Anyway, I started thinking about it. What memories do I have of football, particularly the Steelers?
Well, first of all, my grandfather, “Papa Bear,” had season tickets with a friend of his named Steve. Steve and Papa Bear had an impressive collection of Steelers gear and would head into the city together for the games. They had tickets for as long as anyone in like the entire Steelers history, and their seats at Three Rivers were on the 48th yard line about 10 rows back. Sweet seats. I sat in them several times. You could yell at the players and they could HEAR YOU. Loved that. Those seats were open to the elements and I sat in many a game where snow fell and accumulated on everyone and everything or it rained and wind whipped around.
You know. REAL football. Open stadium. On grass. Muddy, wet, cold, windy. We loved it.
My grandpa and Steve went to two Super Bowls to see the Steelers play. My sister Kelly tells me they were scammed one year and went to Florida to pick up their “package deal” Super Bowl tickets and there were none. They watched the game from their hotel room. I think I do remember hearing that story. Nuts. But I think they most likely had a blast.
I remember going to the first official Steelers game held at Heinz Field. I’m somewhere in that photo you can buy at sports collectors stores. According to the web, it was supposed to be against the Cleveland Browns but that was canceled because of 9/11 attacks. I don’t remember any of that part. The first game was played Oct. 7 against the Bengals. The Steelers won.
Did I mention I was there? 🙂
Other fun memories are from when I was young and the Steelers were hotter than ever. My entire family would cheer and yell at the television. It was a rule that there were peanuts (in the shell) whether you were in the stands or at home watching. It was for good luck, I’m told.
There’s also the running joke that one of my little sister’s first words was “Terry” (Bradshaw) or “Jackie” (Lambert). I can’t remember now. I’m getting old. Yeah. It sucks. That weird transition happened where all the players are now younger than me. That kinda sucks. Didn’t see that one coming.
Tomorrow will come and now my family is all scattered. But we’ll all be watching with sweaty palms and hearts racing.
My parents will likely watch the game with my sister Katie and her family. Here’s Katie from 1977:
I don’t have photos of us all in our gear as little ones, sadly enough, but here’s another fun one. This is Kody in her little Steelers t-shirt and sweatpants. It was probably 1981 or so:
She’ll probably watch at home in Pittsburgh with her hubby, Joe, and their dog, Fenway.
Kelly is in North Carolina. She says she’ll watch at home so she can “watch in peace.” That really means so she can scream and swear and act like a fool without anyone capturing photos or video to use against her later.
My grandma, Gram, will watch at her house. She’ll most likely yell “Go boy, go!” at the television. She always yells when one of the Steelers players has the ball. I don’t think they can hear her, but you never know. We all yell and hope someone hears.
I’ll hang with friends who will most likely see me in a different light by the end of the game. Hopefully things end well. Ha!
One more memory to share is that I’ve of course (accidentally but on purpose) passed along my love of the Steelers to my boys.
Grant sported this sweet footed PJ deal as a baby in 2001:
Here he is now. I think he turned out OK. 🙂
Grant and I have gone to a couple games together. We survived going to a Steelers game IN Cincinnati together. THAT says a lot.
This season, I took Eli to his first Steelers game. We had a blast.
I look forward to taking Lukey to his first game at Heinz Field in a few years as well. I’ve already taught him how to properly twirl a Terrible Towel. We each have our own for the game.
So here’s to the Steelers and all of Steeler Nation. May the Black ‘n Gold come out on top, and may James Harrison kick some major ass without actually killing someone.