I grew up in deep suburbia outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the '60's and '70's. My memories are sort of hazy about my adolescence, but I do remember how the Steelers permeated everything in the city back then.
I had zero interest in football and no loyalty to Pittsburgh, while I lived there or after I left. My family didn't fit in to the Italian, Polish, Irish Catholic, and WASP Presbyterian mix of our neighborhood and the city. No one in my family played sports, watched football or could have identified the names Franco Harris, Joe Green, Terry Bradshaw etc. My father was a German chemist who smoked a pipe, my mom a New England farm girl with an occupational therapy degree. Opera and symphony played from the hi-fi, and all we did (and all we still do when we get together) is read.
It swirled all around me through high school, though: throngs of gold and black hats and jackets everywhere, the billboards blaring DEE-FENSE on the freeways, the Pointer Sisters singing "We Are Family," Iron City Beer commercials with the players, Superbowl mania and loud cheering hoards.
As soon as I graduated, I left Pennsylvania for Vermont and never went back. My family moved away and I tried to forget I spent my first 17 years there. I can't claim to be a Steelers fan (or even a Pirates fan, god help them), but there are some stirrings of loyalty and memories of a shared culture that I can't deny this weekend. So, Go Steelers, I think, and look for our High Desert Museum commercial after the first quarter if you're local.