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Steelers fans do it again


(By Doug Pensinger - Getty)


So a pleasantly surprising six-win team was hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, on "Monday Night Football," around the season's mid-point. In front of a mixed crowd, the flailing home team lost by more than two touchdowns. And at the end, with nothing left for the home fans to cheer about, there were terrible towels and tens of thousands of black and gold jerseys and local columnists decrying the shame of the local fanbase.

Seriously, check these out. First, Michael Wilbon writing in his chat after that game.

"Steelers fans are, I think, the best in the NFL. After that, Cowboys fans, Bears fans, Giants fans. All those fans travel...Redskins fans bailed on their team last night and sold their tickets to Stub Hub or whatever service. You think Steelers fans would have done that? No. Broncos fans? Bills fans? No. I KNOW that doesn't happen to the same degree in those cities. You think Philly fans would have stood for that? No chance. Bears fans? No way. The Browns? Nope...Sorry, you're not going to get me to kiss up to Redskins fans after that sorry performance of support last night...At least 20,000 fans were in Steelers garb waving terrible towels...Tony says it was closer to 30,000...There was no home field advantage. It was a neutral field last night...Sorry."

Then Woody Paige, ranting in Tuesday's Denver Post:

"A revolting number of the Broncos' players and coaches and a repulsive number of the Broncos' alleged "fans" were no-shows and no-clues. The 20,000 season-ticket holders who sold their seats -- in every section, on every level -- to the Steelers' true loyalists should be ashamed. That wasn't a home game for the Broncos. It was a neutralized site. With 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the stadium had been emptied out -- of orange pompom party poopers. All who remained were Women & Men In Black waving the Terrible Towels in victory. Sick effort, Denver. If you don't want your tickets, at least scalp them to people who bleed orange, blue, mustard and brown."

Hmmmmm. So now it's maybe time to say that this isn't about the Redskins fans, or the Broncos fans, or whomever else. This is about the Steelers.

Last week, the Denver Post ran a fascinating story about the Steelers, reporting the Steelers lead the NFL in team merchandise sales, and that three of their players are in the top 16 of jersey sales. That franchise also leads the NFL in TV ratings, with an absolutely absurd 72 share, meaning 72 percent of in-use local TVs are tuned to the Steelers game.

You'll also recall that the Penguins were running a strong second in U.S. TV ratings last season, with an average regular season household number that D.C. can't even touch during Game 7 of the playoffs. Say what you will, but these Pittsburgh fans are getting things done.

And Monday's Steelers invasion came despite Broncos officials knowing and fearing it might happen.

"A lot of our fans have expressed those concerns to us, how some tickets are used," Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis told The Post. "They would prefer to sit alongside other season-ticket holders. That said, we do recognize the right of season-ticket holders to resell their tickets to whomever they wish, for whatever price they desire. Our fans, how-ever, have made it clear what they would prefer and they would prefer our season-ticket holders be the ones in the seats next to them."

(Here's a disturbing stat from The Post; the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles are all in the top 7 of merchandise sales, and the Redskins don't appear in the top 10.)

And sure, there were thousands and thousands of Eagles fans at the most recent "Monday Night Football" game, but it wasn't eye-popping. It was just what you'd expect when you have geographic rivals playing in a 90,000-seat stadium. It was nothing like last year. Look, I'm not saying things are rosy in Landover's ticket offices, but when it happens twice, in consecutive years, in near-identical situations, to two venerated franchises, maybe the common thread is the part we should be focusing on.

"The Steelers and zealots were thieves in the night, and the Broncos and their advocates (those who didn't sell out) stood there and meekly accepted it," Paige wrote this week.

"It really gets a little tiresome hearing how great Redskins fans are, only to see fans of the Cowboys or Steelers or Eagles commandeer FedEx Field," Wilbon wrote last year. "Really, they're a very average lot, at best."

Again, maybe it's true. But credit where it's due. That invasion was a Pittsburgh special.

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 10, 2009; 2:33 PM ET
Categories:  NFL , Redskins  
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Comments

It's a different era now for Redskins fans. Everyone supported the team until Dumb and Dumber took center stage. Put this dynamice duo in the Steel City for 10 years of mismangement and se how well the Steelers fans travel then.

Posted by: Riddler1 | November 10, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Never mind that the lack of attendance and merchandise sales have a direct connection to fans being fed up with Dan Snyder and not wanting to support HIM. At some point you have to make your voice heard and to Snyder, the only way to do that is to vote with your dollar. Many Skins fans know this, but apparently Wilbon does not.

Does Wilbon think that Snyder publicly apologizes for the teams' performance if fans continue to fill up the stadium, don't bring signs, continue to buy merchandise? No. obviously not Wilbon.

I used to like him when I only saw him on PTI, but it's single focus crap like this that makes me want to ignore everything he says.

Posted by: REXskins | November 10, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

one word to explain it for you Steinz BANDWAGON

90% of those squeeler fans have never set foot in Pittsburgh (you could say the same about d-bag cowboys fans ever having been to Dallas as well)

I could care less what that poopslinger wilbon says he is just a blowhard turd riding TK's coattails.

I will say that while they are repugnant no class scumbags most Philly fans are true fans.

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 10, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon is a moron. Please do not cite him as an authority on anything related to DC sports, ever.

Thank you.

Posted by: ThisGuy | November 10, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon is a moron. Please do not cite him as an authority on anything related to DC sports, ever.

Thank you.

Posted by: ThisGuy
-----------------------

Amen.

Posted by: fushezzi | November 10, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I was at the Redskins game in Charlotte and it was 50/50 skins/panthers... but alot of Skins fan here in charlotte anyway

Posted by: heathdog1119 | November 10, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"one word to explain it for you Steinz BANDWAGON

90% of those squeeler fans have never set foot in Pittsburgh (you could say the same about d-bag cowboys fans ever having been to Dallas as well)"

Hate all you want, it just sounds like sour grapes.

Posted by: RoachVA141 | November 10, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

There are no jobs to be found in Pittsburgh so they move to find work. We see thousands of them in DC and apparently yinzers also enjoy the Denver area. I've never once met anyone from DC who moved to Pittsburgh, but I've met hundreds who profese there love for Steeltown but get the hell out as soon as they are old enough to drive. Sad......

Posted by: capsfansince74 | November 10, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

"There are no jobs to be found in Pittsburgh so they move to find work. We see thousands of them in DC and apparently yinzers also enjoy the Denver area. I've never once met anyone from DC who moved to Pittsburgh, but I've met hundreds who profese there love for Steeltown but get the hell out as soon as they are old enough to drive. Sad......"

That works out pretty well then, we get to live in DC where there are jobs, plus they get to root for champions like the Steelers and Pens, meanwhile what titles have your teams won lately (or in the Caps case, at all)?

Posted by: RoachVA141 | November 10, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Steeler fans aren't band-wagon.
Like many of stated, jobs were tough the last 40 years. My parents moved here in the early sixties because my dad last his job in the Steel industry and we moved to North Springfield. Many of our neighbors were from PIttsburgh. 65% of where my dad worked (Atlantic Research Corporation located in Alexandria, VA) originally hailed from Pittsburgh. They had no choice to move in order to provide for their family. Just a blue collar town down on their luck.. Don't hate it. These are the folks that provided the steel to build bridges, battleships, skyscrapers, etc...
I was born in 68 and i've lived in DC my entire life. I'm a Steeler fan (not Skins) as is my brother. My kids are now Steeler fans.
Band-wagon fans don't spend thousands on merchandise, travel, etc.. bandwagon fans don't lead the country in football ratings... Get a clue.

Posted by: Loggie1 | November 10, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

So...a little off topic here: what exactly is so "terrible" about a yellow towel? Looks silly to me. And of mediocre taste, to boot.

Now, if fans swung dead cats by the tail, THAT would be "tuuurible!" Towels? Not so much.

Posted by: hithere1 | November 10, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh fans suck. If you don't live in the city/state and you root for the team then you ate the DEFINITION of a fairweather fan. I don't remember all these stadiums being taken over during the Bubbu Brister era. Spare us your Springsteen songs about shuttered steel mills and fathers who bled black and gold. You people are bandwagoners and you'll crawl back in your holes when this run is over. Just embrace your fickle fandom and don't pretend to be than thou. Pittsburgh can suck my left nut

Posted by: thediesel | November 10, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying there isn't a lot of "true" steeler fans but there most definately a ton of bandwagon steeler fans.

You steeler fans shouldn't get bitter about me pointing that out, the reason you have sooooo many bandwagon fans is because of your team has won a few championships the past few years.

I'm not hating just pointing out a fact.

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 10, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Band-wagon fans don't spend thousands on merchandise, travel, etc.. bandwagon fans don't lead the country in football ratings... Get a clue.


Ummm.... Yes they do

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 10, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I bet you squeeler fans are also Huge Pirates fans too right?

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 10, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in Pittsburgh, went to college in Baltimore, and am now working in DC. As a twenty-something, the reason I didn't return to Pgh has everything to do with nightlife. While they're improving with the burgeoning IT/Medical industries it's still not all too appealing for people like me who like to stay out late and need some quality public transit to get us home when we're not fit to drive.

I've been a Steelers fan all my life and respect the Redskins fans who stick out this dark era for the city. I went to the preseason game, the one that the skins won, and was shocked to see that the Skins fans were leaving even then.

If you wanna talk about fairweather fans, how about the ones who come to DC for 4 years and show no interest in what's going on on the field? I saw more Blackberries out than generic white towels... on free towel night!

Posted by: ASVA | November 10, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Nope, they've always traveled well, even during the Bubby Brister / Cliff Stoudt years.

I would consider a band-wagon fan a fan that sells their season tickets when the team isn't doing well. Actually, Skin fans are worse than band-wagon. They sell their season tickets when they are good too!! Like 6-2, tied for first and on Monday Night...... That's just sad.

So, I have to be Redskin fan because I live in NOVA???
I know your sore because the team like isn't good right now but don't question my fandom when you have no idea what you're talking about. My basement will always have six framed photos of the Pittsburgh Gazette the day after their super bowl wins. They'll never go away To be honest with you, I like when the Skins do well. The DC area is a much happier place and people are much nicer when they win.

Posted by: Loggie1 | November 10, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying there isn't a lot of "true" steeler fans but there most definately a ton of bandwagon steeler fans.

You steeler fans shouldn't get bitter about me pointing that out, the reason you have sooooo many bandwagon fans is because of your team has won a few championships the past few years.

I'm not hating just pointing out a fact.

Posted by: jonthefisherman

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Of course. Every team has band-wagon fans...especially the Red Sox, Yankees and Cowboys.

In Super Bowl 40, the Steelers had not won a Super Bowl in 27 years yet 95% of the fans were Steeler fans (in Detroit). I wouldn't say that's bandwagon..

Posted by: Loggie1 | November 10, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that Steelers fans do a great job of representing. However, the story is also about too many season-ticket holders who sell out their teams. I had club-level tickets at FedEx for 10 years, and purchased them with the intent of.....shocker.....actually going to the game! Yes, I know that season tickets can be pricey, and it sucks to have to pay full price for two meaningless preseason games. But still....sad state that its come down to so many people feeling the need to sell out just to subsidize somewhat the amount they pay.

Posted by: Brian53 | November 10, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I distinctly remember NOT reading Wilbon's article last year. Very glad I didn't. I have lost ALL respect for Wilbon at this point. Redskins fans are an average lot....what a joke. Funny that he throws Bears fans in as some of the cream of the crop. How so? They don't travel...they live in the cities where their team plays. Big deal. Steelers fans do travel...but the vast majority of them have moved away from PA. Again, give them their props for representing but it's really not that big of a deal. They didn't get tickets to RFK....they got tickets to awful Fed Ex in awful Landover on an awful Monday night from a bunch of ticket brokers and corporate ticket holders. How does that reflect on Redskins fans? Get over yourself Wilbon. Right now true Redskins fans are doing everything they can to AVOID the team and affect change. Not going to games, not buying tickets or merch...that's the only way we can make our voices heard.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | November 10, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dan, where were all those Penguins fans when the team was finishing last in attendance? or When they declared Bankruptcy any of the three times the Penguins have done it? It's a bandwagon town. None of these fans were showing up 6, 7 years ago. They did it when the team started winning.

Posted by: FlyersSuck | November 10, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Steinberg -- glad to see you've pulled back on your snark. For all of the haters -- Steeler's fans are true fans. Bubby Brister, Mark Malone, Kordell Stewart...these are some of the quarterbacks we endured. We waited 16 years before we won Super Bowl XL -- and during that decade and half we supported our team.

Do people leave Pittsburgh? Sure they do. I grew up in East Liberty and Greenfield -- but when I was looking for work after grad school -- the only jobs in my field were in DC. The reality is that Pittsburgh is a small/midsize city whose economy is still in flux. The steel mills and factories have given way to hospitals, biotech firms, and other healthcare/technology companies. But the new economy hasn't replaced all of the jobs that the old economy provided. So -- people continue to follow jobs out of town and out of state.

All of which makes what the Rooney family has accomplished even more impressive. The Steelers aren't a big market team like the Redskins or the Giants. But the franchise has been competitive for decades. Along the way the owner has shown that he cares about the team, the city, and the fans. Mr. Rooney - earned our loyalty through his actions. So when this latest run comes to an end -- and we have to rebuild -- the fans will be patient -- because they trust the owners to the do the right thing.

As someone who now lives in DC -- I hope Dan Snyder takes a page from the Rooney playbook someday -- and starts treating Redskins fans with the respect that they deserve. Until then -- I hope those fans will let him know that loyalty is earned -- not bought.

Posted by: lyricist1020 | November 11, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Steelers fans are overated. The yellow flags are bright and flashy and stand out making it appear they are more steelers fans.

Posted by: Freddy_ADU | November 11, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

lets see, the steelers have stable ownership, build from within and have a reasonably sized stadium. therefore, they are able to have sustained success, stability and the feeling like going to a game in pittsburgh is special.

here we have pathetic ownership, constant turnover and a oversized dump of a stadium. besides the horrid performance on the field, it's no longer special to go to a game because there are a million tix available, win or lose. even when the skins sucked back in the day, tickets at RFK were hard to come by. it was special to be at a game. now, not so much.

as for hockey, flyersuck nailed it. the team had one boot in kansas city before they miraculously won the draft lottery for crosby. were last in the league in attendance and that was not too far after they had won back to back cups. and they like to call caps fans bandwagon fans...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | November 11, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why this is such a story. Is it really a surprise that lots of Pittsburgh fans will be at D.C. venues. It has been said already, because Pittsburgh has been depressed economically, people moved to the DMV by the thousand, why wouldn't they then frequent their "local" stadium when their team plays. It's not rocket science.

If things were reversed, and D.C. residents emigrated to the Pittsburgh area(ha, ha) then guess what, we'd have great attendance at Heinz field when they play the Skins. Similar to what happened when we played at Carolina and at Atlanta, we had great attendance despite our putrid team.

So, while the Steelers have great fans, let's not fellate them too much for how they travel, most aren't even traveling anway, they are just already there.

Posted by: OffseasonChamps | November 11, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Wilbon is an idiot. After he made that comment on PTI about Sean Taylor after he was shot, I stopped being a fan of his work.

Posted by: bigmiken | November 11, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

To those of you who think that the big turnout of Steeler fans at away games all around the NFL--Buffalo, DC, Denver, Minnesota, St. Louis, etc.--is attributable to huge numbers of ex-Pittsburghers migrating to all these cities, I ask you this: Do you really think there are that many former Pittsburghers out there in all these cities? Do you really think that every NFL city in the country has such a large contingent of former Pittsburghers?

Pittsburgh was never such a large city that its former citizens could form such a large fraction of the population in every NFL city in the country. Furthermore, while people who leave Pittsburgh do end up in places like DC and New York, it isn't credible that there are swarms of Pittsburgh emigrants now living in Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, and all the other cities that have witnessed legions of Steeler fans descending upon their stadiums.

Posted by: jkarasek | November 11, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

how come none of the yinzers on here ever mention the pirates? i dont think anyone in pittsburgh even realizes they exist. even when they played in the NLCS game seven at home vs the braves they couldnt sell out. They used to hide the upper deck at 3 rivers with a tarp. Maybe nobody will notice all these seats under this giant tarp? What a dump of a town. I'd get out as soon as I could so I certainly dont blame the thousands that move to DC and Denver.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | November 11, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Please. Steeler fans don't travel. Truth is, Pissburgh is such a pit, that they all move out.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 11, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

By the way, a few years ago, the Pissburgh Penguins average 11,000 fans per game, worst in the NHL and far less than the Caps have every averaged. It's all about winning in Pissburgh.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 11, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

steelers fans are the new red sox fans. the steelers are a "cool" team to root for and a bunch of fake sports fans have hopped on the steeler bandwagon. are the steelers a huge draw? yes. do their fans travel? yes. but I bet if you check some drivers licenses from MNF the vast majority of them would not be from the Keystone State.

last years Skins game against the Steelers featured more of the same. "true steelers fans" that grew up in Northern VA. this story is tired, some nerd watched bradshaw in the 70s and roots for them now, half those dudes probably dont even know what primanti brothers is.

Posted by: jpfterps | November 11, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Wilbon again proves what a pompous know nothing jerk he is. There are NO more fair weather fans than Cowboy fans.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 11, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Despite being raped by your owner on a weekly basis and providing a sorry product on the field for the past 10 seasons I'd still say the Skins rule fan loyalty.Their fan base is much stronger though thick and thin than Pittsburg any day...... NFL revenue and Jerseys sold tell it all, also notice the number of Skins fans on the road..... BTW... any tickets available for a Bronco's fan or Boys fan?

Posted by: rlomax67 | November 11, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

You can't blame fans in Washington D.C. for selling their tickets. It's a crappy stadium to go to. A pain to get there and horrific to get out of. Would I prefer they sell to Redskins fans, yes.
But you sell to who wants. What frustrates me is the Redskins actively working with ticket brokers who will happily sell to fans of the other team. That's what I can't stand.

Posted by: templetontherat1978 | November 11, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or are there several bitter Capitals fans here?

Posted by: SamsDog | November 11, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Trust me on this...I bet more people in the Washington DC metro area would want to watch the Bengals/Steelers game this weekend, rather than see the pathetic Redskins get trounced again...unfortunately I will have to go somewhere else to watch it. I love Monday's around here.

Sincerely,

Steelers Nation

Posted by: robertbob2143 | November 12, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

It's not about the Steelers. It's about PIT being a crappy city that exports all its qualified workers to other cities. Further, those left in the city look for any reason to go to another city for vacation. ANYWHERE is a vacation spot relative to Pittsburgh especially NY, PHI, DC, throw in BAL because of proximity to DC, Denver too. NOBODY finds any reason to go to Pittsburgh. It is easy to see why they travel well. Beyond watching your team play, you can spend a weekend away from own crap city. It is a one way street

Posted by: makplan20002 | November 12, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Despite being raped by your owner on a weekly basis and providing a sorry product on the field for the past 10 seasons I'd still say the Skins rule fan loyalty.Their fan base is much stronger though thick and thin than Pittsburg any day...... NFL revenue and Jerseys sold tell it all, also notice the number of Skins fans on the road..... BTW... any tickets available for a Bronco's fan or Boys fan?

Posted by: rlomax67

You can't really make the argument that the Skins fans are more loyal when they sold approximately 30,000 of their tickets to Steeler fans. Skins fans don't really travel on the road either. I will give you that the Skins are # 2 in the NFL in revenue (but not merchandise) but that's because their stadium is way too big (why 'so called fans' sell them) and they charge an arm and a leg for parking. Since the day FedEx opened you've always seen the back of yellow seats in the premium area. Back when the Skins played at RFK, I would say it was one of more hostile places (if not the most) to play in the NFL but those days are long gone...

Posted by: Loggie1 | November 12, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If I had season tickets, I sure would sell one of those against a team like Steelers. In that one game I could probably make back 1/4 to 1/2 of the total cost of the season ticket.

Teams cut players? ---> business decision.

Players bail one team to go to the biggest rival and get more $? ---> Business decision.

Selling one game from my season tickets and make 1/4 back? ---> That's right, BUSINESS DECISION.

So everyone stop yapping. Players, organizations, etc. 'cos they do it all the time.

Posted by: vmrg1974 | November 12, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Not only do many Pittsburghers attend road games, because it is almost impossible to get a ticket here, but due to the diaspora (-200,000 since 1970), almost every city in the US (and Europe) has some kind of Steelers' club or Pittsburgh theme bar. I don't know if the one near the Hawk & Dove is still open or not.

This seems like a strange complaint from Redskins' fans, many of whom do not live in DC, but other places in the SE that lack NFL teams of their own. Do you disavow all of the 'Skins fans in the Carolinas, too?

Posted by: yinsurgent | November 13, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

It is really simple. Many people that grew up in Western Pa have had to move to other parts of the country to find jobs... Denver and DC are two locations that are growing. So when the Steelers play the local team - once every 8 years for DC... the fans buy up all the tickets to have their one chance to see their team in person.

I'll also point out, there are a number of 7/11's in Northern Virginia that sell NFL merchandise. That merchandise is Skins, Cowboys and, what do you know... Steelers.

As for bandwagon... I have no doubt that some are bandwagon fans but bandwagon fans do not travel to games but watch them on TV and don't spend 100's of dollars to scalp tickets. They just don't. They are casual fans and will be onto the next slice of bread in the future.

Signed,

Steeler Nation

Posted by: SteelHop | November 13, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised at the hatred for Steelers fans. I have been a Steelers fans since 1971 when I moved to south central PA (about 4 hours from Pittsburgh). I was 8. My career took me to the DC area (NOVA) in 1987 and I am still a Steelers fan today, and I still live in NOVA. My daughter is also a Steelers fan and she was born and raised in NOVA.

Who cares what team I like? You don't have to agree with my choice of team and I don't care if you personally like my team or not. But why the hatred? I don't hate fans of any other team. You like who you like. No big deal.

Posted by: MeMiney | November 13, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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