JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - No team in the NFL has a fan following on the road quite like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Such was the case again Monday night, though there weren't as much black and gold in the ALLTEL Stadium stands as there was two years ago when the Steelers played here.
Even though Jaguars' management publicly frowned on Jags' season-ticket holders selling any tickets to Steelers fans, thousands of Pittsburghers were among the sellout crowd of 67,164.
"I think I saw half of Beaver County here," said John Fedko, the WPXI-TV sports director after interviewing several tailgaters from Pittsburgh. "I'm serious. They were everywhere."
No less than 69 Steelers fans at one tailgate party were from Beaver County. They came to Jacksonville on an excursion organized by Hopewell's Curt Martin, who owns Fred's Divot bar in Ambridge.
"We had an awesome tailgate," said Martin, who's also planning on taking groups to several other Steelers' away games this season.
Meanwhile, a tailgate hosted by Hopewell native Mike Harmotto had a 50/50 Steelers/Jaguars split.
"Hey, I've been living in Jacksonville for 21 years," Harmotto said. "I've lived down here longer than I did in Hopewell. So now I'm a Jaguars fan."
Two of the Steelers fans at Harmotto's pre-game party were Hopewell natives Michael "Chico" Verez and Ron Trentafellow, who's also been living in Jacksonville for years.
"They still cheer for the Steelers," Harmotto said. "I have no problem with that. They'll always cheer for the Steelers. They're my friends. They're always welcome here. It makes for some interesting pre-game discussions."