View Full Version : Notes From The Diaspora; Rooting For The Steelers In Hostile Territory

01-25-2009, 07:54 PM
Notes From The Diaspora; Rooting For The Steelers In Hostile Territory
Tiny by RickVa on Jan 24, 2009 9:37 PM EST

"Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and the ruffians came all this way to the crest of playing for it all to discover a hideous truth:

"Contrary to their own belief, they're not the most menacing, unmerciful, I-will-knock-you-out football team in the National Football League. That belongs to the guys who made the medics come on the field for their teammate who couldn't move.

"Oh, Baltimore is brutally tough. No team weathers the physical and psychological punishment the Ravens did here Sunday night and manage to make the AFC Championship a taut thriller in the final minutes.

"But they don't bring the pain like the Steelers; they don't pulverize and, disturbingly, concuss an opponent with the same malice as these hard-core players from Allegheny County."

Mike Wise - Washington Post (1/19/09)

Is that a sweet piece of writing or what? And it carries a lot more weight than if it were something coming from a hometown journalist. It is one of the few pleasures that can be had when following your favorate team from afar. But it is particularly at this time when being far from home, where most folks are hostile or dismissive of your passions, that create the greatest challenges for us far flung citizens of Steeler Nation.


The Virginia Kitchen is a great little restaurant in Herndon, Virginia where a group of friends have been meeting for Tuesday morning breakfast for years. In addition to the five of us, other regulars join in on wide ranging discussions, including sports and particularly football. This is Redskin country, but it is also home to a large group of transplants; this is the area John McCain's brother labeled "Communist Virginia". To put a slightly finer point on it, some might say we are in the very heart of Redskin country. Redskins Park is only a few miles away. Four of us attend the same church whose membership is full of current or former Redskins. We all can count one or two as friends, and some occasionally frequent the restaurant. Nonetheless, a few of us hold allegiance to other teams. The Tuesday morning group has Larry, an Eagles fan, another guy whose name eludes me as I write this but we always refer to him as G-Man, who is a Giants fan. I am left to represent not only the Steelers, but by extension the entire AFC. Football wise we share one thing; a complete and utter distain for the Cowboys.

This past Tuesday was special for two reasons: First, it was the Inaugeration, a really big deal in the DC Metro area no matter who has been elected. Second, of course, is that this was seventh time that the Steelers would be participating in the SB. Linc, who is the manager, greets me and offers his congratulations. It is one of only three short exchanges that we will have concerning football. I have only initiated a football related discussion once since Halloween. Why?

I am the object of much envy and resentment. When I first moved to this area the Skins won their second SB with Doug Williams as QB. within five years they had their third. The Skins were considered pro football loyalty. Then there has been the great drought that continues to this day. Richie Pettibon, Norv Turner, Steve Spurrier, Marty Schotinheimer (sorry about the spelling Marty), the second coming of Joe Gibbs (they really thought they were on their way then) and now Jim Zorn. That's twice as many coaches than the Steelers have had since LBJ was President. Nothing to show for it. There is nothing these guys (and one woman) like better than to bring the Steelers and their supporters down a peg or five. And things looked good for them during the first half of the season. Larry and G-Man had opportunities to gloat, though G-Man was honest enough to admit that the Giants had indeed been fortunate that victory for the Steelers hinged upon the long snapping abilities of Deebo. Emboldened, the Skins crowd started to talk about how they were going kick Ben's ass when Pittsburgh came to town on a Monday night . My response was to shut up. Why? Because I was pretty certain about two things; 1. Pittsburgh would win rather easily and 2. They had a pretty good chance of ending up exactly where they are right now. If I had started to gloat back then they would be avoiding me now, or kicked me out of the restaurant, or poisoned my eggs.

So, I have been playing dead, so to speak, for about three months now. Stirring only to mention that G-Man has been missing for two weeks or since the Eagles expelled the Giants from the playoffs. Not responding when the others began to pipe up that Fitzgerald can't be covered, or that Warner is a way better QB that Ben, or that Whisenhunt and Grimm know the Steelers inside and out, thereby outcoaching Tomlin and LeBeau (Whiz and Grimm are ex-Redskins btw). When I return to the Kitchen this Tuesday wearing my Steelers cap, the others will feel confident (read: really, really hopeful) that the Cards will win this game pretty easily. And still I will say nothing; partly because I feel confident about the outcome as well, and partly because I've been wrong before. After we win next week (Please God! ;-) my intention is to TALK SMACK FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS STRAIGHT. So, if I should mysteriously disappear from this site, simply google for a story about some poor guy who had about a pound of broken glass whipped into his omlette.

The point here is that while the lucky ones among you who are actually in Pittsburgh or actually going to Tampa can engage friends and total strangers about any and all aspects of the championship; experiencing the delicious sense of anticipation and the shadow of dread (I mean, what if they actually lose?) as every aspect of your lives turns toward February 1st in Tampa. On the other hand, there are thousands of us who are in the wilderness so to speak. We starve searching through local and national media for crumbs of information. We commiserate with fellow exiles; speaking the language that only 'Burghers and adopted citizens of the Nation seem to understand. We fall to our knees and thank God for the Internet and the ability to check out BTSC several times a day (All Praises To Blitz), or the Steelers site, or the Post Gazette. We hang on, famished while trying to squeeze out the last sweet drops of the football season while those around us have moved on to college or professional basketball, hockey, spring training, the Combine and (Gag!!) the Winter X Games. We seriously comtemplate traveling hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles not to go to Tampa, but to Pittsburgh where we can be in the company of like minded souls rather than to be stuck at some party where everyone but you are treating the game as some sort of background ambiance like jazz or classical music. Our lives are passing before our eyes and some dork wants to know what you do for a living. You would kill them, but then you might miss part of the game. There are the sports bars and there will be more than a few Steeler fans in them, but you also have to deal with all those who are rooting for the Cardinals not because they give a damn, but because they think that underdogs are 'cute' or they just want to see an exciting game. You know what my idea of an exciting game is? A 225-0 blowout with Deebo executing the Bidwells at midfield as time expires.

And the world acknowledging that you don't mess with those hard-core guys from Allegheny County. End of rant.

Can anyone relate?

01-25-2009, 08:26 PM

01-25-2009, 09:03 PM
Interesting read, for me. I was a Redskins fan my whole life until moving to Pittsburgh in '95. One thing I learned early-on was that I had one thing in common with people here, and that was a hatred of the cowboys. :)

Since then, I've been a loyal fan of the black & gold, and have said many times that moving to an area with an AFC team made things much easier. The Redskins are a far cry from where they used to be, that;s for sure.