Green Lantern: Chewed Up And Spit Out In Pittsburgh

Jets Fans Get A Lesson In Humility Inside The 'Steel City'

By Jeff Capellini,

PITTSBURGH (CBS 2) — For all of its glitz and glamour, the new Meadowlands Stadium will never be Heinz Field — even if the Jets or Giants become the best team in football for an extended period of time. Steelers Nation has us over a barrel. I know. I saw it myself first hand. I may never be the same.

The truth is you’d be hard-pressed to find any stadium in any sport as intimidating as Heinz. At least not in January with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.

Everything you’ve heard about Pittsburgh and its love for its football team is true. But since we live in a talk is cheap society, the only way to know for sure is to visit the Steel City and see for yourself.

So I attended the AFC Championship game on Sunday, totally mindful of the city’s reputation for being unforgiving to opposing fans. But as I sit here and type away following the 400-mile trip back to the tri-state area on Monday (it took much of the six-hour trip to get the feeling back in my fingers), I can tell you without hesitation that Pittsburgh’s reputation and love for all things gold and black is very much for real.

It’s in your face and it’s relentless.

You’ve heard stories about the “Black Hole” in Oakland and the hatred Philadelphia fans have for basically everyone, including their very own teams and players. You’ve seen the fans up in Boston do a number on Yankees fans and the folks out in Foxborough lay into Jets supporters. Everyone by now is aware of what a trip to the Bronx is like, especially in October.

Trust me, they don’t hold a candle to the ferocity of Pittsburgh fans.

It didn’t really matter that the Jets beat the Steelers at Heinz back in Week 15. It didn’t matter that the Jets were flying high after having beaten both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in their houses the previous two weeks. None of it made any difference to the Steelers fan whatsoever.

That’s because, to a man and woman, the people of Steelers Nation know that at home in the playoffs their team is better than everyone else, period. They carry themselves in a way that pushes the envelope of sportsmanship to the edge, but never quite oversteps the imaginary boundaries. Only 312,000 people live in Pittsburgh, but on game day all 312,000 are a united front against all enemies — foreign, domestic, you name it.

To put it simply, the city of Pittsburgh may very well be the single greatest homefield advantage anywhere in professional sports. We, as Jets fans, had — or at least thought we had — strength in numbers. Looking back, it’s real easy to understand why we totally missed the boat on that one.

It started about 50 miles west along I-76. Every last road sign warned us about a lot more than slippery roads. “GO STEELERS” was flashing on every last sign. Every car had a Steelers flag or decal. People at rest stops looked at us funny, as if to say “Oh boy, fresh meat.”

We were eventually greeted with a rather spectacular sight at night. Sitting at the base of a mountain lies the NFL’s model city. Sure, it also has the Pirates and Penguins — and of course the latter is rather tremendous in its own right — but make no mistake, Pittsburgh is football country. Stanley Cup championships and dreams of a .500 season in baseball are merely just distractions until football season starts.

We got to our hotel, which was located about three miles from Heinz, and it took about 12 seconds for the assault to begin. We walked into the lobby. We weren’t even wearing Jets gear and they knew. I immediately envisioned my credit card being charged double or triple.

Fans just started pointing and snickering. The guy at the registration desk did his best not to laugh at us. The Penguins were on the TV playing the Hurricanes. Only the presence of a few foreigners from New York could tear their eyes away from the screen. And even then it was just for a second. They shot their looks of death, shook their heads in disgust and then went back to watching the game.

Saturday night in Pittsburgh was an event. Through Twitter we put together a group of about 20 Jets fans and we decided to try our luck on Carson Street, or the other official place where opposing fans go to get ridiculed. Upon entering “Jack’s,” more of a college bar where trouble wouldn’t need much of an invitation, I saw near-retirement age men wearing the types of Mark Sanchez T-shirts that decorum prevents me from describing here. We did take solace, however, in the fact that beer prices were very manageable. I will take to the grave the opinion that the bartenders and bouncers only allowed us to comandeer their establishment because our green, in a lot of cases, was more plentiful than what they were used to receiving.

There were no incidents to speak of, but there was plenty rewriting of the Jets’ main chant. You can probably imagine what was said. Again, it was sort of par for the course, but what made it insane was it never stopped. You’d think the Jets were the worst team in the league with the way the Pittsburgh people were talking. So what if the Jets won there a month ago. The stakes were higher now and the cream always rises to the top in Pittsburgh, they said. It most certainly did as we all saw.

Jets fans tailgate at Heinz

Jets fans brave the elements at a tailgate outside Heinz Field on Jan. 23, 2011. (Photo/ Jeff Capellini)

After several hours of battling the hometown fans we worked our way over to Primanti Bros., arguably the greatest sandwich place in North America. It’s so good it’s open 24 hours a day. The guys working there laughed at us initially, but the New York cash roll rule was still in play so they did their best to behave, along the way telling us how lucky we were to get there when we did. Why? Because unbeknownst to us we had arrived before last call at the bars. If we had shown up 45 minutes later we would’ve been in the deep end of the pool with about 200 sharks.

We spent the better part of Sunday preparing for what we thought would be the Jets’ coronation from team on the cusp of greatness to one that would finally end the 42-year drought between Super Bowl appearances. We dressed for the bitterly cold temperatures cautiously, trying to imagine how the players would go about their business in the locker room. I mean I literally asked my buddy Dom for a roll of tape. The only thing missing was John Facenda’s voice over an NFL soundtrack playing in the background

Again, we were foolish. We were noobs. We were stupid enough to listen to our hearts.

The fine people at put together a massive tailgate about a half-mile from Heinz for any Jets fan that survived Saturday night. We had a ton of people. We ate like kings not knowing it was really a last supper of sorts. No matter how well we thought we dressed for the elements we quickly found out that Pittsburgh is really the North Pole and that we’d actually slept through our trips and been unaware that we took a detour through the Bermuda Triangle.

It was a rather standard tailgate until around 5:30 p.m. when we all decided to head to Heinz. This is where things really got intense. You have to walk that half-mile and for our group it was more like walking death row. I kid you not. Fans of all ages in our faces, some throwing snowballs. Profanity brought up to an art form. Old ladies giving us the evil eye. Children giving us the finger. College-age males railing away on us like we tried to dance with their dates.

It was crazy.

At most NFL stadiums it’s now an ordeal to get inside. Security is rightfully a very slow, arduous process so, like in the image shown above, you’re often packed in tight like sardines. At the Meadowlands, no problem. Someone will say something funny and it will help pass the time. But at Heinz? Ha. Did I mention before how much they don’t like Sanchez? Well, add Rex Ryan to that list as well. It almost felt as if I was Rex and my buddy was Sanchez and the guy next to him was Antonio Cromartie.

Once inside it was get a beer or go to the bathroom at your own risk. Teaming up was a must, not that it would have made much difference if someone in gold and black or green and white had had too much to drink. The bathrooms were an event. You’re waiting on line and you have a choice to make. Do your business now and deal with the wrath or be uncomfortable for a while. Either way, you were going to be uncomfortable.

The upper deck of the north end zone at Heinz, the “Lost” island of western Pennsylvania, as I like to think of it, was just madness. You sit down, the fans are on you. God forbid you cheered once, you were ducking a flying beer. We just prayed Sanchez or the defense could find a way to get the Jets on the board early. Of course, that didn’t happen and by the time it was 17-0 in the second quarter we knew only a true act of NFL Jesus was going to spare us the true humiliation that we had yet to experience.

The Jets did salvage what was left of our lives with a spirited and frantic comeback in the second half, but, alas, Jets Nation was left wondering if Year 43 of the wait would be the final year. The abuse died down a bit as we dispersed following the final gun, mostly because the Steelers faithful had shifted their hatred of the puny Jets to the mighty Packers. We were left to fend for ourselves on the three-mile trek back to where we would lay our heads. Some guys suggested going out to a bar to drown in our sorrows, but I knew somehow that would be a bad idea so we, for sake of a better term, jetted to the relative safety of our hotel.

The six-hour drive home on Monday was filled with your typical lamenting of what could’ve been. Luckily for me my travel partners were diehard Jets fans with good heads on their shoulders and lots of perspective. We got over it pretty quickly — the loss, that is.

What we will always take with us is the beatdown we received in the belly of the beast.

As the sun set Monday evening we pulled up alongside the new Meadowlands Stadium. One of my buddies laughed while announcing we had come full circle.

Not me, I thought to myself. Part of me died in Pittsburgh.

And those ravenous fans dragged what was left of my soul through the streets.

Check Out More ‘Green Lantern’ Posts

  • Brad Detanna

    I felt like I was in the BURGH, and reminded why I am in CA. I enjoyed your article and felt a strong connection to your plight but as a Steeler fan I enjoyed hearing your experience. Thanks for a great read.

  • J

    I clicked this article because it had Green Lantern in the title. It has nothing to do with superheroes – just fat, obnoxious football fans. God, it must suck up there North of the Mason-Dixon line. Its so damn cold ya’ll actually care about football? Put down the sausage and the remote and go outside.

    • fassold

      “Go outside”? Where do you think the game was played?

    • Joe

      Check the obesity rates down in Dixie compared to the North-East before you wreck yourself further.

  • Fassold

    Burgher born and raised. I was there before Noll and Mean Joe. One overlooked reason for the devotion of Steeler Nation: Those rings started arriving just when the mills were shutting down. Pgh lurched from a blue-collar working city to a rusting hulk of unemployment and fear. What kept us from diving into a citywide depression? The Steelers. They’re more than a team. They’re the heartbeat of a city that refused to die. And that’s why when people ask, “Are the Steelers like religion in Pittsburgh?” We reply, “Oh, no, they’re much bigger than that.”

  • Steel Town Girl

    It’s more than everything you have read here. For me and my family, born and raised Steel Town Girl, it was a source of relief and pride in a time when PA was not doing so good. We almost had no food, no money and sometimes heat was a gift, but man when the Steelers came on it was all gone. They represented our spirit, tattered and beat up, but not out. Now that we have overcome and came out of the Steel Mills slipping away, there they are right along with us, still fighting. It’s a source of great pride for a Pittsburgh family that watched it all slip away, but they never took our Steelers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I live in another state, but my heart belongs to Pittsburgh and our Steelers!

    • Heather

      Amen! That is my life too!

      • Laura

        And Amen again Steeler Sister!!

  • John

    I am having a hard time reconciling the following statements:

    “They [people of the Steelers Nation] carry themselves in a way that pushes the envelope of sportsmanship to the edge, but never quite oversteps the imaginary boundaries.”

    “Fans of all ages in our faces, some throwing snowballs. Profanity brought up to an art form. Old ladies giving us the evil eye. Children giving us the finger. College-age males railing away on us like we tried to dance with their dates.”

    If the author doesn’t feel that these acts exemplify bad sportsmanship, I’d hate to see what he considers truly bad sportsmanship.

    • Wayne

      I’m guessing you have not been to a live sporting event lately.

    • Laura

      Not only that, he’s a JETS fan…
      It’s freaking BEDLAM in that Stadium when the Jets play. Their fans are universally obnoxious.
      I have a friend who works security for Giants/Jets home games. He says the difference in the behavior of the fans is unbelieveable!

  • kimbo


  • pghboy52556

    How can any trip that includes a Pramanti Bros’ visit be all bad?

    • pghboy52556

      Yikes: I misspelled Primanti! I better go to the ‘O…. at least I can spell it.

  • Frank Bauer

    Hey, sorry you had a bad experience. My friends and I saw these types at both the divisional round, and the AFC Championship game. Any fan base has these over the top types. Will I “raz” you… you betcha, but I won’t cross the line, and I’ll be the first to say, “you got us” when you win. During the divisional round, we had 5 Ravens fans in front of us… our most hated rival. We ended up having a great time with them. Yeah, a little smack was flying, but we were also joking about our respective teams flaws and flags. So again, I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but you’re right about the intensity, regardless of how it manifests, it permeates everyone in the city this year… because we are proud, and have a little bit of “short man” syndrome haha. All the best next year and hope we square off again!

  • Boom Boom

    i want to say i am sorry for any steeeler fan that treated you and your crew badly during your stay here in the “Burg ‘. the steeler nation is very proud to kick the hinny of any team that will come to Heinz field. However we will give you a terrible towel to dry your eyes while heading back to your hotel or transportation after the game. Also give you an invite to come back next year..all we ask is that when we visit your town please have enough rooms for all the steeler nation to show.


    [ifelong Packer fan and know Steeler fans travel the best. There may be more Packer fans because no one wants to spend their whole life in Wis. so wer’e scattered nationwide. I think both fan base’s are first rate and very hospitable.Very loyal fan base for both teams, This should be a great Super Bowl. Very classy orginizations and fans. Go Pack

  • kayk

    Jeez, don’t any Jets fans read this column?

    Go Steelers!

    • Ray Jacobs

      There is NO Way the abuse was as bad as this guy paints it…….no way. Trust me, me and my friends and people I know will joke but not abuse the other team’s fans. That’s not Pittsburgh. Pittsburghers would make fun of your team……THEN give you a ride to your hotel if you needed it. Don’t beleive me? Then you’ve never been here or you happen to BE one of those unruly fans from Philly OR new york. Grow a pair dude……’s just a game.

      • Keith Harker

        i couldn’t agree more with Ray. Thats the reason the PITTSBURGH NATION (ref. WDVE) is so huge.. we have pens fans everywhere.. steelers fans equally if not more so. but one this is for sure the majority of people will treat YOU like a friend… your TEAMS like enemies… unless you’re from philly because.. yes….they DO hate everything… everyone… and are undeserving of Pittsburghs awesomeness that we let others experience

  • Mike Waters


    im glad you had the experience you did in our great city, we pride our selves on the fact we have the best fans world wide. heckling comes with the game but Pittsburgh is very humble. after we win we don’t harp on the past its on to the next one.
    The jets played a great game but there’s one more thing you need to know about the steelers, we play 16 weeks of preseason. the playoffs are steelers football. your team just got caught up @ the wrong time.

    Take care my friend and ty for such a wonderful story


    I liked the article. However, a little dramatic don’t you think. I was a season ticket holder for a year in college and coming from the Philly area, Pittsburgh is not guilty of anything but heckling. Philly is much, much worse and I am comparing the rowdy group of college guys that always had a free keg at their tailgating parties. The only thing Pittsburgh is guilty of is having the most infectious and passionate fans anywhere on the plant.

    Stay proud and loud PITTSBURGH!!!

  • ampatsisahypocrite

    Awesome… go Steelers, now you see the reality — there is no fan base like the Steeler fan base! Number one baby!

    Go Steelers bring home big number 7!

  • Jason Knapfel

    What a pompous ass. He had to leave the safe confines of the civilized world of New York where people drink tea at 4 and treat others with dignity and class only to spend a couple days among the savages of Western PA. I’m sure the businesses you speak of would have done just fine without you spending your “plentiful green.” There are idiot football fans everywhere, including New York.

    • DB

      Really true. Try going to Cleveland Browns game in your Steeler gear and see what happens. They are even worse. And they don’t have anything to boast about. Pittsburgh Steeler fans have bragging rights.

      Quit whinning.

  • Steeler Fan For Life

    The response from “fan for life” brought a tear to my eye!! Our Love for our Steelers comes from deep rooted traditions that are too hard to explain and he summed it up perfectly!!

  • Danielle Heckmann Lowen

    You know the funny thing about most of us “STEELER” fans is that if one of our own gets out of line with the visiting teams fans…We let them know it ourselves. I am a season ticket holder, and I live for my STEELER football Sundays. While at the AFC championship game, one of our fans would just not lay off a Jets fan….he went on & on…..Finally, “WE, STEELER” fans had enough and let one of ours have it. We may tease you,,,but…we take care of our own.

  • Kathye Bishop

    Your article and the responses to it made this English teacher proud! Your use of imagery, description, humor, and most of all, hyperbole, nearly brought a tear to my eye. Thank you. By the way, your narrative evoked fantastic memories and unlimited pride because I am a native of PA who will always believe in the spirit of the Steelers Nation!

  • Becky

    What you don’t understand is we are born Steelers fans it is bred into us

  • jcap17

    Thanks to everyone who read and responded to this column. I greatly appreciate it. I can assure you what was described went down exactly as I stated. Great fans overall in Pittsburgh. Primanti Bros. is an institution. I hope to go back one day. Good luck in Dallas, people. I’m sure you will bring your Billy clubs. Peace.

    • Boss Steeler Chick

      I completely believe you. Thanks for your good luck wishes. Steeler Nation welcomes you back!

  • john

    hey bro i was your bartender at “jacks” , section 520 boys! glad you had a good time in the burgh stop back any other time we will be glad to have you all again. thanks for the good write up!…bartender JOHN jacks pittsburgh usa!

  • Larry

    I am amazed at the number of Steeler fans who responded to this NY article. As one wrote, just be glad you weren’t a Ravens of Browns fan – they can bring out a lot more jerk behavior around here, sorry to say

  • Bubba_Banjo

    Yeah though I walk thru the Valley of Black and Gold I shall…………screw waIkin!!!!……..I shall run like HELZ!!! Them people is nutz!!!

  • Judd Stricker

    Like Howard Cosell once said on MNF, “when you play Pittsburgh, you play the entire city.”

    Here we go, Steelers!

  • Dan

    Jeff, for the most part great article, a he’ll of a lot better than an article I read ripping up the Terrible Towel. I’m from NY and grew up in the backyard of the Jets, until the moved to NJ. My family and friends are die hard Jets fans and I enjoy the Jets but I am a Steeler fan.
    I have been a season ticket holder with the Steelers for 3 years and I have taken friends to games when we play their team. Two examples would be last year versus the Ravens and 2 years ago versus the Cowboys, two teams that are hated much more than your Jets. Both of these friends stated how much they enjoyed the Steeler experience and wished their teams had the same passion as the Steelers do, by the way both of their teams lost also. Neither of them felt threatened and I spoke to a large number of Jets fans after the game Sunday and they all said that other than some friendly jesting, Steeler fans treated them well as expected.
    On the other hand, you need to look in the mirror. I live in Chicago now so we flew in for the game Saturday and had a fair share of Jets fans on our flight. The flight was probably 70% Steelers fans, 20% Jets fans and 10% of just normal travellers. About 45 minutes before our scheduled departure Jets fans were coming to the gate and unprovoked were the loudest, rudest and least respectful people on the flight even though they were out numbered. This was also evident just up until kickoff, so I’m sure some of the rare issues you encountered were somehow provoked.
    I’ve been to a lot of sporting events around the world and there are a lot worse places to be and one is in your own backyard. Three years ago I went to a Jets versus Browns game in NJ. The Browns fans were treated worse than you state in the article, yes Jets fans are some of the worse on thier home field. Baltimore and Philly are just as bad ( I will say Saints fans were some of the best ). Go to those stadiums and then compare.
    Steeler Nation is incredible, it is like no other in pro sports. Pittsburgh is a football town no doubt about it. I’ve lived in NY and Chicago and been to many sporting events Mets vs Yankees, Islanders vs Rangers, Cubs vs Sox and those are just the inter-city rivalries but nothing compares to Steelers football at home.
    Sorry if you encountered the few idiots out there but that is not what Steelers Nation is about, we welcome you to more games and wear your colors proud, we appreciate it as we do the same and plus you’ve got a good team there ( including Rex and Sanchez). We hope to meet again next year, with the same outcome of course.

    Go Steelers!!

    • Bluesdude

      Great artcle Dan. Sorry if you had some “fan” troubles. Pittsburgh is usually pretty good to visiting fans ! And thanks for not calling our QB a rapist. None of us liked the Milledgeville incidents but, most of us here feel that no stone was left unturned during that invest. and if there even the slightest doubt, Ben would have been prosecuted. Hope we didn’t scare you away forever! Come back in the summer sometime. You’ll love it !

      • Worry Wart

        Yeah Dean…..A real class act…..
        Our Judicial System is based on Innocent until Proven Guilty…!

        I did touch a beer before I was twenty, in fact plenty, but I took responsibility for anything I got myself into….This wasn’t a chance meeting….she followed him to 3 different bars in 3 different locations…..and they were both drunk….

        Why was it his fault….? Why wasn’t it her fault…?

      • VegasFan

        Now that was the funniest said here….no stone left unturned. Please. Guy should be in jail.

      • Dean

        No one prosecuted because the victim did not want to go through with a trial.

      • Worry Wart

        To the two Boobs that want to get down in the gutter about Ben……I guess being she was under age, drunk as a skunk, and followed them to 3 different Bars…….means she was just a poor innocent girl…..

        I’ll give you he should have known better……

        But in this case it took two Tango….!

        Now, go back into the gutter…..Nothing could probably ever make you happy!

      • Bob

        dean if the offense was capable of being prosecuted, based on EVIDENCE, it would have. The Girll/Student/Groupie, has no say in what goes to court and what does not. EVIDENCE is the key.

      • kimbo

        Ummmm….Pittsburgh’s QB is a rapist though.

      • Dean

        Well now, a Pittsburgh loss would make me happy.

        Poor, misunderstood Ben.

      • Dean

        I guess Worry Wart never touched a beer before he was 21.

        You’re a class act. Steelers before justice!



    • Jim

      Obviously – this writer lost all sense of reality heading back to NY while writing this article. Jets fans were so confident that a win was their “Destiny” that they forgot to bring their prozak in case of a loss. If this writer needed to irrationally vent in lieu of jumping off of the Roberto Clemente Bridge, then we’ll cut him a break. However, Steeler Nation is a welcoming group and Steeler Fans, as a whole, resect the game too much to act “Ravenous”, as he suggests,(that’s Baltimore). Women & children cussing, throwing things and flipping the bird??? – Give me a Break!. I don’t believe his “Alice-in-Steelerland” tales one bit!. He couldn’t whine about the loss of what happend between the lines, so he rants on the good People of Pittsburgh – He couldn’t be more wrong!! GO STEELERS!!!

  • Shawn

    I was at the game on Sunday and I thought we were rather nice to the Jets fans. Every Jets fan I spoke with said they experienced nothing more than the normal razzing. In fact, when I apologized for the actions of some of my fellow Steelers fan I was informed how much worse the fans of the Giants, Red Sox and all things Philly were.

    Now, had you been there the week before and witnessed the way Ravens fans were treated, maybe your outlook would be a little different. But you are right about one thing – Pittsburgh is the center of the football world.

  • Lori

    I’m sure you whiny Jets fans were not treated that badly. We Steeler fans are a strong group and we protect our team and our city. I’m sure had the game been at Meadowlands Stadium you lovely New Yorkers would have been much worse.

  • kxm

    Like so may other Pittsburghers have commented above–I sincerely hope that you exaggerated the actual nastiness you experienced. We’re a proud people who love our sports teams, to be sure, but we also pride ourselves on our hospitality. We will tease and razz you, but this pretty much sums it up: “Native Pittsburgh people … will welcome you with open arms. They will tell you that your team will lose, but to enjoy the game & most importantly enjoy your stay in their city.”

  • Sean

    “We got over it pretty quickly — the loss, that is.”

    Please don’t ever refer to yourself as a jets fan again.


  • Steeler bred and born

    This was a wonderful story and so true how the Pittsburgh heart and soul is poured out through our football. It’s incredibly hard for me to believe that the Steeler Nation treated you so badly. I’ve gone to many Steeler games with much more hated opponents than the Jets and all visitors can say is just how hospitable the Pittsburgh fans are. I guess all we can say is that Jets fans must be wimps! Just teasing! ;)

  • Steelers Fan 12

    You should try being a Steelers fan in Baltimore! That’s rough. I’m a female in my 20’s and I had men threatening me. I’ve never been so scared. My friend (also female) almost got in a fist fight Saturday night after the Steelers beat the Ravens. As a Pittsburgher I pride myself on our friendliness and I hope no one was overly rude to any visitors (heckling not included!)

  • Beth

    I am honestly surprised that any fans threw beer at you, or even snowballs. We pride ourselves on being welcoming! Sorry for that experience, trust me when I say that you encountered a rare few rude people. I’m all for sharing a beer with any fan, even a Browns fan ;) But yes, we love our city and our teams!

  • Kathy

    My daughters were born in GA and are diehard Steeler fans as I am a native Pittsburgher and it is in their genes. Also, my two young granddaughters are proudly following in their footsteps. First thing the 6 yr ld asked her mom the next morning was “Did the Steelers win?” and the 3 yr old said “I love, love, love the Steelers!” NOOOOOO place and NOOOOOO fans like Steeler fans! Great artricle, BTW.

  • DC

    Been a season ticket holder for over 10 years and I will say there is no way a steeler fan wasted beer on a Jets fan. Hell I can’t even see them throwing a snowball. If you were a Browns fan I can see it but not a Jets fan.

    Either way great article.

  • hello haha narf

    I bleed these Three Rivers and love my Steelers, but have to say I am shocked that people threw beer. We don’t waste much beer around here! Sorry for the folks who took friendly taunting too far.

    Especially when you were kind enough to give me such a good laugh with the”Jets Nation” phrase. Funny stuff!


  • Ryan


    As a die hard Pittsburgh fan, this article was great. You really captured what it is like to be from the city. My friends are D-1 Big College Football alumni and don’t understand how one can cheer for a pro team like I do for the Pens and Steelers. This article captures it. I am very sorry to hear about the flying beer. Once anything goes beyond words, I feel bad–I’ve had food and punches thrown at me during a Washington Capitals Penguins playoff game. Notwithstanding, this article has gone “viral” in the Pittsburgh social media.

    Incredibly written, and truly, truly captures the spirit of this football town.

    • Lisa

      I think this article is great……but highly recommend that you go to a home game at Penn State – Happy Valley one time. It is definitely worth it and you would be amazed………..and will have fun with the rest of the town/students/fans and alumni.

      Penn State Alum – 1982

  • sannies

    I have a hard time believing your safety was ever in danger. I’ve been to many Pittsburgh sporting events and other than a few juvenile fans, which you’ll find in every stadium/arena, Pittsburgh fans are usually hospitable. They WILL razz you, but then say “let’s have a beer.” I wasn’t lucky enough to be at the AFC championship, but was recently the the Winter Classic (and if you think they are different fans, you sorely mistaken….view the last Stanley Cup parade for proof) and though half the stadium was opponent fans we all had a good time razzing each other AND partying together.

    One thing you did nail…businesses LOVE Jets fans. Everyone knows that you treat you’re wait staff more than equitably!

  • L Watkins

    Excellent article! Really captures the heart and soul of Steelers Nation and the city of Pittsburgh. Better luck next year.


  • Mitch

    Great article. Honest,but not bitter or scathing. I went to See the St.Louis Rams host the Steelers i n 2008 and absoutely could not believe how the Rams fans were outnumbered and oucheered in their own stadium. You would have to see it to believe it.

  • Toni


    Jeff, what a great story!
    I am a Steelers fan, but more than that, a Pittsburgh fan. I grew up there, went to school there, met my husband there, and then…traveled east to Philadelphia, where I have lived for 35 years. Your story made me homesick…because (while reading through the lines) I know that it truly captures the spirit, the guts, and the pride of the hard-working, blue collar people who are indefatigable when it comes to love and loyalty! I wish that everyone – like you – could live there if just for a day or a week-end to experience the “charm” the people display.

    My 4 grown children who have traveled the globe recognize the huge differences that exist between the people of Pittsburgh and people of any other location. They have known it since they were babies and traveled the turnpike, excited to watch Gram make home-made pasta…and watch Pap sleep on the couch after a long day in the mill. And while they love their Philadelphia, they KNOW there is no place like steel country! Thanks for the story and Good Luck next year…

  • Bob

    I’m from Pittsburgh, and I hope you weren’t treated too bad, as we actually pride ourselves on being a very friendly city…

    I was in Colorado last year for business….and the Steelers were playing the Broncos on a Monday night. I was lucky enough to get tickets.

    I was nervous to wear my steeler colors to the game, but as we drove up towards Denver, about an hour and a half outside of Denver on the highways…..Bumper to bumper traffic…..Black n Gold everywhere….Steeler signs….Steeler Flags…..Steeler Shirts in every car. I unzipped my jacket immediately, let the colors shine…it was like a home game…!

    I kid you not, that there were more Steeler Fans in Denvers Stadium that night, than Bronco Fans…When the Broncos came out, the Boo Birds were so thunderous, you would have thought you were in Pittsburgh…

    I understand this happens at every Pittsburgh Steeler Away Game….

    The Steelers are truly America’s Team…!

    • Dean

      No, more than likely Steelers fans traveled to Denver and bought tickets because no Broncos fans attended. Happens in a lot of cities.

  • fan for life


    Being a Steeler fan means so much more than football. It means being from a corner of the world unlike any other.

    It means being from a place where the people are so tough-minded that they have survived the Homestead strikes, the Johnstown flood and most recently the Etna Floods. These people have the DNA of hard work, in mills and mines, without the necessity of complaint. They live simply, with no frills. They don’t have movie stars or fancy cars.

    Instead, they have simple traditions like kielbasa, Kennywood, and celebrations. They live in distinctive neighborhoods like Polish Hill and the Hill District and all of the surrounding counties. These people are genuine.

    They don’t have chic internet cafes and cappuccinos, but they have The Original Hot Dog joint, Primanti’s, Eat n’ Park and Iron City Beer. People from Pittsburgh don’t have sunny beaches or fancy boats, but the rivers roll gently, connecting the small towns of people whose histories have been built on strength and humility.

    People from Pittsburgh don’t have the biggest shopping malls or the best nightclubs, but they’ll take Friday night high school football and Steeler Sunday over anything.

    Steeler football means so much more than you think. It symbolizes a Diaspora of generations who had the best childhood they could imagine.

    They ran free without a care or concern in the valleys of those Allegheny Mountains . Their blue-collar world was easy … there was no one to tell them that they lacked material things. There was no one to tell them that
    they needed more.

    As the steel mills closed and the jobs disappeared, some of these people had to leave. While the world benefits because they spread their Pittsburgh values, they long for their home where things were simpler and more pure.

    They teach their kids about Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, L.C. Greenwood, Joe Greene, and Myron Cope in hopes of imparting not just the knowledge, but the feeling that they represented.

    They are everywhere, those Terrible Towels. They wave, not just for the team, but for the hearts they left behind.

    They wave in living rooms in Fort Lauderdale and in the bars of Washington , D.C. They wave all the way to the Seattle Superdome! They wave for the Rooney family, whose values mirror our own – loyalty, grit, and humility.

    They wave for football players like Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward, whose unselfishness and toughness have allowed sports to be about the game and the team.

    Make no mistake that Steeler football is not just about football. I could not be prouder to be from the Pittsburgh area than I am right now!!

    Even if you no longer live in the area, you have South Western Pennsylvania in your blood no matter where you go.

    And deep down in your heart of hearts, you can still hear the Super Bowls of times past, the excitement in everyone’s voices especially our fathers, cousins, and anyone else who gathered around the TV on Football Sundays!

    Make no mistake, its just as exciting right now! It’s not just about rivalries and who is better than the other, it’s about family, tradition and roots! It’s more than football, but its football at its finest!

    • JYo

      Amen. What a great response. I am one of those transplants cheering from a Steelers bar on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC every Sunday. Steelers Nation is a beautiful, albeit formidable, thing and I have tears of pride welling up in my eyes after reading that!

      I personally hate the trash talking that happens in the world of sports from high school to the pros. I appreciate the competition and I respect the teams that consistently give us a smash mouth game … like the Birdies. So Jeff, I’m sorry you saw the underbelly of our heart of gold. Believe me, I’ve felt it as a Pens fan here in the Verizon Center! You’d swear I was Sid the Kid and my best friend was Malkin. I get that it’s “part of the game” it just isn’t part of me.

    • Picksburgh Stillers Fan

      As I read this, I was getting a little choked up. I don’t think I have ever heard it better explained what it is to a Pittsburghian.

    • Jack Gifford

      Actually your statements are quite misleading.
      First of all go to a Steelers game and tell me how many people there are from the HIll District or Polish Hill. Actually tell me how many people are actually LIVE in Pittsburgh. I guarantee you you will find very few from those neighborhoods and the vast majority live in the exburbs now. Pittsburgh’s population used to be well over 700,000 but is now treading 300,000. Check out the most recent census figures. Pittsburghers abandoned the city long ago for the more greener pasteurs of Wexford, Cranberry, Murrysville, or Washington County. You will find the vast majority of the Steelers fans at a game are from these areas. Pittsburghers abandoned their blue collar roots long ago.
      Secondly, as I eluded to above, blue collar industry left Pittsburgh long ago. It has been replaced by education and healthcare as Pittsburgh is #4 in the country for the number of college students. People do not have the DNA of the steel mills in their blood. Most of the people that worked in the steel mill are long retired. The people that go to steelers games now wouldn’t know a steel mill if they saw one. Pittsburghers may not stay up all night the hottest nightclubs or sip lattes all day, but they are as white collar as you will find anywhere else. Cleveland in comparison, is still much of a manufacturing region and is less white collar. You can feel the difference at a Browns game, because the fans are more hostile, use more profanity, and are generally more out of control. To me, Cleveland Browns game is more of a true blue collar experience, even though they are a terrible team.

  • Brian Baric

    This was my 12th time to Pittsburgh & every time gets better. Your first part of the story was right on. The stadium is madness & the aura is unreal. They love their Steelers & fotball. Your 2nd part of story is so way off and untrue. I was in Section 109 50 yard line & talked to Jets fans all game & afterwards. We all came from NJ & NY mostly. To a man every one said they were teated great & respectfully. Are you gong to get razzed? of course. Will you meet jerks along the way? Where don’t you? But you paint a picture of an unsafe place to view a game. That is so wrong & unfair & most importantly inaccurate. Its the Jets fans who tried to burn down their own stadium. It was the Giants game that I was at that became the “Snowball” game where the high school band memebers were chased off the field by snowballs thrown at them. Native Pittsburgh people (and I am not one of them) will welcome you with open arms. They will tell you that your team will lose, but to enjoy the game & most importantly enjoy your stay in their city. Your story is either so exaggerated or worse completely made up. Get real man.

    • PGH Girl 4 Life!

      As a Pittsburgh native….I couldn’t of said it better myself! Thanx♥

    • aversas

      100% truth in THIS statement.

  • Alan

  • Alan

    Here’s a link on you tube to see what it felt like being there… If you don’t trust the link which, type in “Renegade 2011 AFC Championship Steelers Vs. Jets 1-23-11 on you tube”

  • Nancy

    once again, gotta say my kid was there in December nd experinced NOTHING like this. He was at Jerome bettis restaurant and they even got on the loudspeaker and welcomed the Jets fans! I am thinking no one thought they were going to win so they were nice!

  • Erik Manassy

    Jeff – This is a great read. I was obviously there with you during parts of this and boy did you hit the nail on the head about the environment once it was game on. Dang.


  • Samir

    This is a great story…..I have never seen anything like the Pittsburgh crowd.

  • TedH

    Great story. You are so right. You travelled through the heart and soul of not only Steelers Nation but this country also.
    Even though I now live in Dublin, OH, I grew up in Pittsburgh and there is almost nothing in life more important than the Steelers. Just ask my 9 & 7 year old sons who were born in Ohio and have never been to a Steelers game. They keep asking when are we moving to Pittsburgh.
    I am glad you made it home safely. Thank you for the story. It reminds me of home.
    Go Steelers!
    Ted Hinsman

    • SteelersForever

      I enjoyed your story, even if it did paint a bad picture of Steeler fans. Not ALL Steeler fans are that way. Of course, I”m assuming alcohol MAY have been a factor???? Not an excuse though. Have to say though, I believe every NFL stadium has the idiots you referred to in your story. Just look at the Miami Dolphins fans. I experienced it first hand this year.

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