Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Steeler Nation

Yesterday was a pretty big day here in the 'Burgh. It was the celebratory parade for our beloved Steelers. I've read that 350,000 people showed up "dahntahn" to welcome home the Super Bowl victors. I would've liked to go, in fact, my brother, Chris, invited me join him and my nephew, David. But I didn't have enough advance notice to schedule a vacation day. So he sent me an e-mail to tell me what it was like and to share some of the pics he took. He also included some other thoughts that I think really tell us what the Steeler Nation is all about.
Printed with permission, of course. (Because he can still kick my ass)...

"I have figured it out...... I know why Steeler Nation loves their team so much......

THE TEAM GETS IT.... from Dan Rooney all the way down the line.

I have met a number of athletes in building my autograph/memorabilia collection.... Some of the greats were total assholes - Bonds, Willie Mays. Hank Aaron wasnt very personable either but he wasnt rude - he came across as doing his job. 99% of the Steelers I have met are very courteous, down to earth, likable, every day kind of guys who happen to have a glamorous job and get paid a king's ransom to do it.

This goes back to guys from the 70's... Hell, I had the chance to tell Terry Bradshaw he made growing up here a lot of fun and his reply was "You guys made it fun to play here." We talked for a couple minutes while he waited for someone to bring him a drink.... there is only one guy on the current team who shall remain nameless who came across as full of himself. A few weeks ago we met LaMarr Woodley and asked for a picture with David...he got up and came around the table and took the picture (yeah I am sure he felt bad cause David was on his crutches at the time) but he talked to all the fans there. So did Farrior.

I think the team understands the fans and what the team means to us and what we want from them. We want to see guys who give the effort we have been brought up to give in our jobs and we want to see them succeed because nobody sees us succeed in our jobs. We live vicariously a little bit through their success.... And in turn they understand that. A guy may not run a 4.2 40 but he works hard, plays the right way, puts his team first and at the end of the day he knows that effort is appreciated and he gets more than just a paycheck for the effort.....And everytime that relationship gets reaffirmed at some event, it gets to be an even deeper relationship. On both sides of the ball. I also think because the team is close to each other they come across as being more in it for each other, for team success, than for the money. I think we everyday working stiffs want to think it is about more than the money. That just like us - friends and family are more important than a buck to them.

A number of the guys got out of their cars today and walked along the railing shaking hands. Harrison was creating such a frenzy the cops asked him to get back in his car (yellow corvette convertible).... but you could see they understood what this meant to the fans and in turn we could see what the turnout meant to them. A number of them yelled down to the fans "Best fans in the world."..... These guys today were bigger than any rockstar you could imagine.... I really cant imagine how they could want to leave here for just dollars and cents.... I know its a business but like Jeff King of the Pirates said about 15 yrs ago "I make $4 million a year.... $4million... a year.... How much do I need? I like it here, I'm comfortable here, why leave?".

I think my brother is right. And I think the team recognizes the contibution that the fans make to their success. You can see it in the way they interact with the crowds at the games - or any other event. You can tell by how the various announcers talk about the fans at Heinz Field, especially during the playoffs, being the "12th man". It's a great thing!

Now, below you'll see some of the pics he sent me.

You can go to the Steelers site to see a great slideshow. Patrick can be seen in pics number 12 and 63. I gotta wonder what he's thinking about all of this. An undrafted rookie, named rookie of the year for his team, being in the Super Bowl, on the winning team, and having a really great hit during the game, and then coming home to this. But now he knows what its like to be a part of the Steeler Nation.

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