I wore my dad’s jersey into Heinz Field because I wasn’t sure how Steeler fans would treat me and my giant green and gold Packer coat.
If they got nasty, I figured I could explain that, though my dad played for the Packers for eight years and the Colts for one, he was from Pennsylvania and had family in Pittsburgh. “I’m practically one of yinz,” I’d say.
Having anticipated some unpleasantness, I wasn’t surprised at all when a gentleman in head-to-toe Steeler-wear came up to me as I approached the stadium ahead of Sunday night’s game.
“You can’t wear that here,” he said, but he was smiling as he said it and I smiled back.
“Oh, you know you want to be wearing green and gold, too,” I said.
We bantered a little back and forth and he mentioned Super Bowl XLV.
“I was there!” I said.
“Oh yeah? Well, tonight’s when we get our revenge,” he said.
I actually enjoyed the conversation, and I think he did too because he kept walking alongside me, telling me very specifically how the Steelers were going to win.
“Are you going to walk with me all the way into the stadium?” I asked.
He laughed. “Nah,” he said. “Have fun.”
“You too,” I said.
I think we both did, too.
Despite their Terrible Towels, Pittsburgh fans turned out to be pretty cool. I felt at home among Steeler Nation. In fact, if you’re a little near-sighted, like I am, and you squint just right, Pittsburgh fans look exactly like Packer fans.
Here are a few things we all have in common:
- The Gold. It’s the exact same color on both uniforms and I’m pretty sure it’s there to remind us all of the ultimate goal — the Lombardi Trophy. (I mean, it’s ours but we’ve lent it to Pittsburgh so many times (six!) that I can see why they’re partial to the color as well.
- History. We owned the sixties, they owned the seventies and we’ve each had our runs since.
- A passionate fan base. We both wear the colors proudly. I walked down the Strip District on game day and it seemed like the whole city was wearing Steeler black and gold. It looked like Titletown, with black where the green should be.
- T.J. Watt. They drafted the talented Badger. We should have.
- Mike McCarthy. I know we’re a little mad at him for calling the 57-yard failed field goal attempt instead of punting and pinning the Steelers back, but the man earned us a Super Bowl title, and 119 regular season wins so far. He’s brought us to the playoffs eight straight seasons. I like the guy, and he’s from Pittsburgh.
- Rocky Bleier. He’s from my hometown in Wisconsin, a Steeler legend and an American hero.
- Sausage. You get brats at Lambeau, kielbasa at Heinz Field. They’re both delicious.
- Weather. Neither Heinz Field nor Lambeau is made for sissies. On a brisk winter day, the wind swirls through. You have to love the game to sit through one in late December at either stadium.
I love the Packers and I still hope they run the table this year. But, if they don’t, I’m rooting for the Steelers. I liked what I saw at Heinz Field Sunday night.