My wife's brother-in-law Troy and I have become great friends over the years and even live right next door to each other. We both come from out west of the Rockies and spent our teen years in Utah. On top of that we each have three kids around the same age that play almost daily with each other. We both love classic cars, computers, politics, and astronomy. We both have our elderly parents living with us and of course we both married women almost exactly alike... Well they are sisters after all. On top of that we each have a passion for football. But whereas I'm a Steelers fan, he is a Cowboys fan. It is in this that we have managed to put aside our natural tendancies to dislike each other, and instead have come to respect the other's team. We have discussed how of late we even cheer on the other's team, (unless they're playing each other), because we want to be sure the other is happy enough. Overall a good friendship.
Now here is where I tell you why that matters in the least. We both live just south of St. Louis, Missouri where our wives grew up. This way our wives can be close to their family of 10 siblings, 25 nephews and neices, and assorted cousins. A very large family that is extremely close. So both Troy and I moved out here so our wives could be at their happiest. Now being that we currently live in rabid Ram's territory, Troy and I still wear our team gear in some manner or other almost every day. Hats, T-Shirts, hoodies, jackets, sweat shirts, and etc... The difference though is that whenever we are out in public in our attire, he is able to do whatever tasks he needs to do without anyone ever saying anything to him. I, however, get to hear the inevitable "The Steelers suck!" comments from many of the local yokels. I always answer in the same manner... "Yep. You're correct. 6 Super Bowls with 5 Lombardies, dozens of Hall of Fame players, and three winning coaches over the last 40 years with more playoff appearances than any other team... We Suck. But your Rams now.... What's their record again?" It usually shuts them up. But my point is this; Why is it Troy's Cowboys don't "Suck" and my Steelers do? He and I have discussed this and have no real answer.
Both the Cowboys and the Steelers have 5 Super Bowl wins. Both teams have huge numbers of players that are now in the Hall of Fame. Both teams set records that other teams envy. And both teams have fans that travel to away games and inundate the rival stadiums to cheer on their teams. So why is it that where ever I go I get to hear constant smack about my team and Troy gets blissful silence? And it's not just in Missouri either. Back in Utah it was the same. Most people there are Denver fans due to location, yet they're fine with the Cowboys and dismiss the Steelers as a sucky team. It's really strange when you consider it. Did some Steelers players go around beating up their family members? Or maybe Art Rooney Sr. refused to shake hands with anyone not from Pittsburgh? Both questions are obviously ridiculous, but so is the overwhelming hatred of the Steelers by fans of other teams.
If it were just Cowboys fans that did this, I'd understand. fifty percent of the Steelers' Super Bowls were against the Cowboys, and two thirds of those our team won. It's probably the only cross conference rivalry with any heat to it in the whole NFL. But Denver fans from 12 years ago? Rams fans from long after the Steelers beat the Los Angeles Rams in a Super Bowl? And why would a Detroit fan say it at all? Just look at what their greatest record is... First team in the NFL to go 0-16. Meaning they are now officially the worst team ever in the history of the NFL. And the Browns that didn't become the Ravens... Their fans used to cut down Cowher so much it was like he personally slighted each and every one of them... Now they're singing his praises because they truely believe he'd like to coach for them. As if... Sheesh.
Being a Steelers fan means you sign on to a lifetime of undue bile and disgust by other fans of other teams. And no matter what you debate with them, or even if they concede your team is top notch, they will tell you again, the next time you're wearing Steelers gear, that your team sucks. Maybe that's it?! Maybe the clothing sets off something in their brains in a manner similar to Pavlov's Dog hearing a bell. Perhaps the colors of black and gold together is equal to the myth of a bull seeing red. I don't honestly know to be certain, but I surmise it must be something extremely traumatic for them if they accidently walk into a Steelers bar in their area and see everyone dressed that way. I would imagine their eyes roll back into their heads, and they begin to foam at the mouth right before convlusions strike them down and an ambulance has to be summoned for them. In today's world I'm surprised we Steelers fans aren't constantly facing lawsuits for causing undue stress and discomfort for those fans.
You'll also notice that when you ask them to explain why exactly the Steelers suck, they'll get a headache and run screaming after saying, "They just do." Which, by the way, is such a smooth and intelligent come back it makes you glad you decided to stop and converse with the moron in the first place. I used to think they were just jealous of our team's number of playoff appearances and Super Bowl wins, but when Troy was able to escape the same considerations while wearing that giant blue star on his clothing, I realised it had to be deeper than that. I'm no shrink so I couldn't even begin to fathom what part of their brain is set off by my being a Steelers fan, but anatomically I'd say it begins in their gluteus maximus where non-Steeler fan brains tend to reside. I think we should petition our congress to set aside some of our tax monies, they're suddenly being awful free with, to study this phenomenon. We might even be able to come up with a cure for what I call Steelersuckitis. This disease inflicts people of all ages, even children too young to understand the history of any team it would seem.
A few weeks back when the football season was just starting and my kids had just begun school after a seemingly long summer, I walked my kids to the bus stop one morning as I always do. This day however, two things were different. I was wearing my Steelers cap since I hadn't bothered to comb out my bed hair, and there was this six year old boy and his sister there. They were new to our neighborhood having moved here from Arizona at the end of the summer. The boy looked at my hat and said... Yep. "The Steelers suck." The first thought that came to my mind was, "Yeah? So does your mother, just ask your dad". But luckily the part of my brain that is supposed to filter my thoughts and stop me from speaking straight from impulse was working that day. Normally it's in the off mode much to the chagrin of my wife. But this day it worked fine, and I just smiled at the kid. I smiled even bigger when he stepped in dog crap right as the bus pulled up.
Brian L. Baldwin aka Steelers70
January 07, 2008