Being a lifelong Steelers fan has no downside. Being a lifelong Steelers fan who has never lived in or near “The burgh” has a drawback or two. For one (as I have blogged about in the past) being young in the 60’s and 70’s in the NFL wasteland of Arizona; Steelers games were near impossible to watch. Local broadcast games were usually West Coast teams, with the odd East Coast team or “cowpies” abomination. Ever so rarely a magnificent Steelers game would be seen. Also, obvious for anyone who passed geography class, driving to Three Rivers Stadium to see a game, was not feasible. I blog this to say, I am a lifelong Steelers fan who had never been to Pittsburgh or watched a Steelers game in person.
I had a brush with fate in my early twenties while working for a company outside of Phoenix. They offered me the chance to relocate to their national headquarters in Pennsylvania! The idea nearly had me doing back flips. I could see myself festooned in Steelers garb, as a Steelers season ticket holder! Oh, nirvana at last. I was ready to accept and just needed to consult one last source (A map). My bliss turned to horror as I located Leesport Pennsylvania. What! I’m not an Eagles fan. No thank you, very much, I am not a traitor!
All is not lost though. As fate would have it, I was given a golden opportunity in 2004 to finally visit Pittsburgh. I had sold a muscle car I had, and the purchaser lived in Eastern Ohio. I, at the time lived in N.E. Florida. Having no way to get the car to his home, he offered me an all expense paid trip to deliver it to him. Remember geography class? As a wise old farmer once told me when everything was working optimally “Now we’re making milk”! I accepted and after delivering the hot rod, spent a couple of “gratis” days in Pittsburgh. What could be better for a Steelers fan?………….for it not to have been early March. In March 2004, Hines field was closed to the public, except for the gift store. No game (as I knew) but also, no tours. OMG! fate can be a cruel mistress. But not to be defeated entirely, on the way home to Florida, I also was able to spend time in Gettysburg (amazing place) and Washington D.C. (another amazing place).
I plodded along from that point with my Steelers soul wandering the torturous void of ESSS (Estranged Superfan Seperation Syndrome) Don’t worry, the term will catch on one day with the Psychology field, now that I have discovered and defined it. Amid my general ESSS malaise, I lived an outwardly normal life with my Steelers void only brightened by the 1994 invention of NFL Sunday Ticket. Still, anticipating heaven, and living in heaven are two entirely different things. Then something happened.
I was planning a trip to one of my favorite cities (Memphis). Did I ever mention I’m a musician. Talk about a Blues lovers Nirvana! WOW! what a wonderful musical vibe that city has! As part of the trip, my oldest daughter was going to meet me there. In our planning she said, she had a surprise for me. She had booked a trip for us to a place I would love and if I guessed it, she would send me the itinerary. As a true Steelers fan (Having children that are rabid Steelers fans) I instantly knew we were going to Pittsburgh to attend a Steelers game!!!!! She had given me the dates, and my heart sunk. The Steelers are playing the Chiefs that weekend in Kansas City. Why would I want to go to Kansas City……..well it is the home of my favorite style of BBQ and I love BBQ……but still. My ESSS was at an all time high. I told her I couldn’t figure it out since all I wanted was to go to a Steelers game at Hines Field. She told me not to worry, she would still give me the itinerary when we meet up in Memphis.
Let’s skip forward here to my daughter and I sitting in Huey’s Downtown, in Memphis, having a burger before we walk to Beale street for some sizzling Blues! My daughter hands me a paper (a crossword puzzle, actually). If I solved it, I would know the itinerary. I looked at the clues and already knew the impossible answer, but the Steelers were going to be in Kansas City that week! I told her that, and she told me to re-check the schedule. At this point I realized I am better at reading a map then a schedule. Who needs to rely on fate, when you have a wonderful daughter that will never let you down! WE’RE GOING TO PITTSBURGH TO SEE THE STEELERS PLAY THE Bengals!!!!!!!
OMG!!! We are going to “the burgh” to see the Steelers play at Hines Field, with tickets in the 100’s section at the 45 yard line for a divisional game against the escaped prison inmate team!!! I nearly passed out and hit the floor.
This one is going to be a serial blog, so stay tuned for my next blog that will recount my trip to Paradise!!!!