The pink towels flying through the air next to the usual gold ones were a strange sight, but the chants of “Here we go Steelers, here we go!” made everything feel normal. This was my first time attending a Pittsburgh Steeler game in ten years, and the day was a celebration of the team’s rabid fans as much as it was a chance to actually witness a football game.
As I’ve noted before, Pittsburgh is probably the most dedicated sports town in America. Everyone in the city bleeds black and gold. Literally. Maybe not literally. I haven’t cut anyone open to verify the accuracy of that statement.
Since I hadn’t been to a Steeler game since 2002, I took a rare leap beyond my tightwadtravelitis and coughed up $100 for a ticket (yep, that’s face value) to take in an October game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
There were a decent number of Eagles fans in attendance. Given the intense atmosphere, I expected some ugly scenes between Steelers and Eagles fans, but it was mostly good natured teasing.
Except for one incident, where some Steeler fan threw a beer at an Eagles fan sitting several rows in front of him. For a minute, I expected a war to break out between the different factions, but instead, all the Steeler fans yelled for security and pointed out the loser who threw the drink, then cheered as he was ejected. I was impressed by everyone’s willingness to cross party lines to identify the culprit.
Let’s play Where’s Waldo. I spotted at least 7 green Eagles jerseys among the departing crowds. How many can you find?
The Steeler fan base first embraced the Terrible Towel in the 1970s, and it has remained the signature characteristic of true fandom – if you’re not screaming and recklessly waving your towel around when the club makes a big defensive play, you’re not doing your job.
Those pink towels? They were a special promotional giveaway in honor of breast cancer awareness.
Normally you would never see NFL players wearing pink wristbands and shoes, nor see yinzer fans proudly waving pink garb, but concern about breast cancer has a way of making even the most macho dudes join the pink club.
The view of Pittsburgh’s winning skyline from the upper deck:
The game itself was not a work of art. The Steelers did that thing they do where they played down the level of opposition and needed a late fourth quarter defensive stand and a last-second field goal to win. Victory goes to the Stillers!
I was fascinated by watching the players on the sidelines during and after the game, since you don’t normally see that part on television. At game’s end, a prayer circle formed at midfield.
The weather was also crummy, cold and rainy, which necessitated some creative fashion decisions. Don’t hate on the elf hat.
Heinz Field is actually a beautiful sight when it’s empty.
So is the skyline as seen through a transparent Steeler banner.
And leaving the stadium, the funniest thing was seeing all the evidence left behind by the tailgaters. I guess it wasn’t so funny for the people who had to clean it up, but they’ve had four decades to get used to that post-game reality, so don’t feel sorry for them. I just hope those bottles and cans got recycled.
Do you attend sporting events when you travel?