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Old 01-27-2010, 05:57 AM   #1
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Default A Steelers fan in hostile territory gets his earthly reward

The Morning File: A Steelers fan in hostile territory gets his earthly reward
Monday, January 25, 2010
By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Answered prayers: Phil Roberts, senior minister at Hill-n-Dale Christian Church, in Lexington, Ky., won "America's Ultimate Displaced Fan" from DIRECTV.

It must have been Wadsworth or Longfellow who wrote, "Nothing darkens men's souls on a gray January afternoon more than the absence of the Steelers from a playoff Sunday." Or maybe it was Dermontti Dawson.

Yes, it must have been the great bard Dawson.

In any case, the Steelers nation sat hopeless and helpless over the weekend, paralyzed by indecision over what to do, whom to root for, whom to hate most.

But there was one exception to the joylessness: a Steelers fan in Lexington, Ky. He's busy 52 Sundays a year, regardless of black-and-gold ups and downs. Phil Roberts, senior minister at Hill-n-Dale Christian Church there, has struck gold of his own.

Mr. Roberts (his church does not like formal titles such as reverend, and his several hundred congregants just call him "Phil") has just claimed a national championship that rightfully belongs in the hands of a Steelers follower hundreds or thousands of miles from Pittsburgh every year. He has been crowned by DIRECTV as "America's Ultimate Displaced Fan."

The pastor lives in Bengals country, about 80 miles from Cincinnati. He entered a contest in which hundreds of people sent in videos, essays or photos stating their case for the difficulties of rooting for their favorite team far from its home turf. Mr. Roberts won by filming himself as a zombie singing from the afterlife about the hardship of maintaining his Steelers passion -- to the point of suffering cardiac arrest -- when denied the chance to watch many of their games on his home television.

For his ingenuity (available for viewing at ultimatedisplacedfan.com/videos/), he receives a trip with his wife to the Super Bowl in Miami, a chance to mingle there with a Steelers player, participation in a celebrity flag football game and -- the best answer of all to his prayers -- free access on television next year to every Steelers game via DIRECTV's Sunday Ticket package.

The interesting thing about Mr. Roberts, like so many Steeler Nation members, is he's never lived anywhere near the Steel City. He grew up in pre-Colts Indianapolis in the 1970s, where he says it was simply a matter of choosing whether to root for the Steelers or Dallas Cowboys.

"I just loved Terry Bradshaw," he said in a phone interview, and he retained his team allegiance through stints in Ohio and elsewhere. The Bengals meant nothing to him after he moved into their territory, other than his delight when the Steelers beat them -- which occurred with regularity every season but this one.

As a religious man who doesn't spend time in taverns -- there must be a Steelers bar in Lexington, though he's not sure where -- he doesn't have many fellow Steelers-lovers to watch games with when he puts on his Santonio Holmes jersey. He watched the first half of last year's Super Bowl with a group at church, the rest at home, where he has four young children.

Mr. Roberts has become somewhat of a celebrity in the Lexington area, written up in the newspaper previously for winning multiple national video contests, often making use of the kids. In recent years, the family has won a vacation cruise, a year's supply of baked beans, a Florida beach trip, a digital makeover of their home, new clothes, a television and a $15,000 check.

The minister acknowledges the ubiquitous contest entries and homemade videos -- usually portraying him in some goofy fashion -- might be a little unusual for someone in his profession.

Though never a football player himself, Mr. Roberts said, "I've always been competitive. The job I have can be high pressure, and this is a great outlet for me, a way to use that competitive streak."

The ideal would have been to win tickets to a Super Bowl game in which the black-and-gold played. Near season's end, it would have taken some divine intervention to make that happen. But he never lost faith in the team.

"Sometimes, it's just a matter of how the ball bounces," he said, looking back over the Steelers season, with injuries to key players also challenging them. "It's bizarre who they beat and who they lost to."

So instead of rooting in two weeks for a repeat of Mr. Holmes' game-winning catch, he'll be watching teams for which he has less affinity. As would be the case for any football fan, being at the Super Bowl will still be like heaven -- but maybe just the second tier of it, in this case.

And if he wins the Doritos make-your-own-commercial competition, which he has now entered twice, he figures to get back to the Super Bowl -- hopefully with his favorite team.

"Tell all the Steelers fans out there they're not alone," he said, thinking especially of other outcasts like himself, "and we're coming back next year."

Gary Rotstein: grotstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1255

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10025...#ixzz0doTCXwsY
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:14 AM   #2
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Default Re: A Steelers fan in hostile territory gets his earthly reward

The guy has quite an imagination. http://www.ultimatedisplacedfan.com/videos/

Thanks Mesa!!

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress & the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution,
but overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."

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Old 01-27-2010, 09:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: A Steelers fan in hostile territory gets his earthly reward

I live about 70 miles south of lexington. I may have to start going to his church so I can stick around and watch the game.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: A Steelers fan in hostile territory gets his earthly reward

What about the Steelers fans in China and Mongolia... lol...

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