The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams that have an undeniable nationwide fanbase. Steelers fans will tell you that their influence even extends overseas, making their fan base worldwide. I am one of those Steelers fans and I've been one since birth (one of my earliest blankets as a baby was a Steelers blanket). My family has been Steelers fans for generations, hailing from coal mining and steel producing western Pennsylvania. True fans of any sports team cheer for their team whether they win or lose, but it is obviously more fun to do so when the team is winning. Being a Steelers fan is great not only because of how successful the franchise has been, but also because of the notable traditions and players throughout the history of the franchise.
Anyway you slice it, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most successful, if not the most successful, teams in the history of the NFL. Since the merger in 1970, they have an overall record of 391-241-2, having had only 5 losing seasons in 41 years. The 6 most significant of those wins are 6 Super Bowl victories, the most of any team in the NFL. On the road to those 6 Super Bowl victories the Steelers also amassed 8 AFC Championship trophies, 20 divisional titles and 26 playoff appearances. While it obviously took great players to achieve this success, the franchise's secret is superb leadership by the owners (the Rooney family) and unparalleled talent in the front office. These factors enable the Steelers to recruit talented players that other teams have never heard of, recognize when it is time for a veteran to retire or be traded and hire quality coaches to lead the team to victory. Consider that no other team has had as few head coach changes as the Steelers (three head coaches in 41 years) and likewise no other team has a longer average tenure for the head coach position.
Other than their tradition of winning, the first tradition most fans think of in regards to the Pittsburgh Steelers is the famous "Terrible Towel." The "Terrible Towel" dates back to 1975 when it was created by famous Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope, spurring Steelers fans to bring yellow hand-sized towels to the games and twirl them around in the stands to this day. Another tradition synonymous with the Steelers is a tough defense. The Steelers defense was so tough in the 1970s that it was nicknamed the "Steel Curtain" and its dominance played a major role in the Steelers winning four Super Bowls from 1975-1980. Each new season the Steelers defense is compared to the iconic "Steel Curtain." One more (subtle) tradition of the Steelers franchise is that of humility and a low tolerance for distraction. No one player or coach is above the franchise. Coaches like Rex Ryan that make a lot of noise every year about winning the Super Bowl or flashy players like Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson would not make it in Steelers Country. There are a number of players throughout the years that were traded not for issues related to talent but issues related to humility or distraction. And as I mentioned before, the Steelers front office has a keen eye for knowing when to let such players go, as seen through the fact that most of them do not have much success after leaving the Steelers.
Past Steelers Legends
The centerpieces of the fans, coaches, ownership and traditions are the players themselves. The Steelers have a fraternity of talented and outstanding players, most of whom played all or most of their careers wearing black and gold (the team's primary colors). 11 members of that fraternity who played for the Steelers since 1971 are literally the "best of the best" by virtue of being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Terry Bradshaw, quarterback, not only led the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories, but his insight into the game has resulted in him being a mainstay host on FOX's game day program. Assisting him in those Super Bowl victories were other Hall of Famers such as wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, center Mike Webster and running back Franco Harris. Franco Harris is most famous for the "Immaculate Reception", a play where he caught a deflected pass by his fingertips and ran it in for a touchdown. On the opposite side of the ball were even more Hall of Fame players that were key parts of the "Steel Curtain" defense, cornerback Mel Blount, defensive tackle "Mean" Joe Green and linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert. Jack Lambert earned a reputation not only for his ferocious hitting but also intimidating his opponents, partly the result of missing his front four teeth.
Current Steelers Stars
While the home of Steelers has changed from the iconic Three Rivers Stadium where they played for 30 seasons to the present Heinz Field, the fraternity of talented players continues. Notable Steelers today include quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu and defensive end James Harrison. Recently retired wide receiver Hines Ward spent all of his years in the NFL wearing a Steelers uniform while making a name for himself as not only a trustworthy pass catcher but also an elite pass blocker. After he was fined for a hard hit he dealt in a game, the joke quickly spread that only a Steelers wide receiver would get fined for a hard hit. This showcased the toughness and competitiveness of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a franchise that is set apart from the rest in terms of success, tradition and fame.
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