Like many a kid (and grown men), I was charmed by the NFL, and looked forward to Sundays. I reveled in watching Bradshaw, Harris, Bleier, Swann, Stallworth, Ham, Lambert, Greene, and the rest of the Steelers who have arguably become the closest thing to football immortality as you will ever see. But the 70s and 80s have been gone for quite some time, and though I faithfully hung on through the Cliff Stoudts and the like---all the way up until the more recent champions---my heart is no longer with the Steelers. My allegiance is to the Carolina Panthers (and really has been since before they ever took the field at Ericsson Stadium). I am a true Panthers fan, regardless of my support of the pre-Panthers Steelers.
I don't know at what point I came to this realization. I don't know the time that the light-bulb popped on. It would be easy for me to attribute my feelings to the misguided actions of Big Ben or Santonio Holmes, but that would be a lie. I don't know if there was some poignant moment, or that there was some catalyst that led to this epiphany. Somewhere along the way---whether it was recent, or back in 1993---I was baptized in teal and black. No, I didn't go down in the pool, watch the water turn into a spiral of black and gold, and arise in different shades of teal and black. More than likely I was baptized by the fires of watching men like Sam Mills, Steve Beuerlein, Ricky Proehl, Muhsin Muhammad, Kevin Greene, Reggie White, He Hate Me, Fred Lane, Stephen Davis, Julius Peppers, Tim Biakabatuka, Steve Smith, Jon Beason, Jonathan Stewart, Deangelo Williams, Jake Delhomme (yes, Jake Delhomme), and countless others take the field and give it their best shot over time.
Yes, I still have a few Pittsburgh caps, and a nice leather GIII Steelers jacket, but to wear them now really would feel foreign and odd to me. I will probably give the caps to my sister who is a staunch Steelers supporter (and is good friends with Ike Taylor's sister), and sell my jacket to the highest bidder. Other than my memories of past Steelers glory, there will only be the "old-timey", satin Steelers jacket that I gave to my 12-year-old son to remind me that I was once a Steelers fan. And even that jacket will probably go into mothballs fairly soon because my son looks like he's going to be too big for it soon enough (because his pediatrician says, "He's going to be a big man.").
Even though my son says that I have finally capitulated to two of my brothers-in-law clowning me about having two teams, I know that my putting down the Steelers really has 100 percent to do with my heart. Indeed, this has been a long time coming. Yes, my son still says he's going to wear that jacket because he likes Big Ben (and, no I haven't enlightened his innocent mind about Ben's off field issues, and I won't). But I know my son enough to know that as far as the NFL, he will go the way that I point him. Even now, his heart is with the Panthers, and I "coincidentally" have an even "cooler" Panthers jacket that I will give him this year. Like myself, he is destined to be an ardent Panthers fan for the rest of his life.
Edited by top dawg, 17 April 2010 - 02:05 AM.