I am a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan and just want to let everyone know that having your team win the Super Bowl is even sweeter when the opponent has a strong fan base as well.
And when that opposing fan base is as classy as Steelers fans were before Super Bowl XLV, and as gracious as they have been since, it makes the experience even more rewarding and special for the victors.
The last time Green Bay won the Super Bowl, back in 1997, they defeated the New England Patriots. I lived in Wisconsin at that time and never really felt the wrath of the Patriots fan until moving down south during the following spring. Once the 1997-98 season began, and I started donning my Packers gear, the Patriots fans started coming to the forefront.
My first encounter occurred the morning of the first week of the season. I was at a local grocery store picking up some essentials for a Sunday in front of my television. In the beverage aisle, a burly gentleman in a Patriots jersey slammed into me and let me know how he felt about the Packers (i.e. that Brett Favre and the whole team cheated) and informed me that I was an a-hole. I was just amazed; I could hardly believe that this guy could still be harboring those feelings.
The encounters continued. Every time I wore anything Green Bay, I would hear from someone.
I eventually got used to it and just shrugged it off, hoping the Pack would win it again.
The Packers did make it back, that following season, playing the Denver Broncos. Their fan base was no different. The game hadn’t even been played, yet I was hearing how bad the Packers were from the Broncos fans. After they defeated the Packers, in an awesome game, the retorts just got stronger. All I do is wear the Green and Gold, support the Packers, and I hear it from everyone.
In the days leading up to the Big Game, like I do most every day during the season, I wore my colors. Every Pittsburgh fan I ran into had nothing but great things to say.
We would actually talk about the teams, their players, and how the game would play out. I even had conversations about how there was no way the Steelers could stop the Packers. As each day passed, another great conversation would take place. From coworkers, friends, or just someone I would run into who I never met before. We would have a quick conversation, the longest one lasting maybe sixty seconds, all of which ended with “Good luck on Sunday.”
As the last pass of Super Bowl XLV fell incomplete, and Aaron Rodgers took the final snap to clinch victory, my cell phone started buzzing as message after message came in, mostly from my friends and family, my Packer faithful. The ones that were most satisfying, however, were those from Steeler fans saying, “Great game, congrats,” “Wow, what a game, congrats, they deserve it,” “Congrats champ,” and “Aw, we almost came back, couldn’t have lost to a better team, you deserve it.”
In the days since, I have run into more Steelers fans, many of whom were also still wearing their colors. I have received handshakes and had more great conversations with the same coworkers, friends, and other new faces along the way. The most memorable new face has been Tom, working a toll booth, who mentioned he enjoyed the game. “It was truly a wonderful game” he said. “That Rodgers is just something else,” he continued. As he handed me my change he pointed to his watch, which had a Steelers Logo, and finished by saying, “Congratulations, that kid Rodgers deserves it, I enjoyed watching him play. Good luck next year, I hope we get another chance.” As I drove away, I was even happier than I was before.
I am taking the time to write this post because having your team win the Super Bowl is truly an awesome feeling, but being able to talk it about with another fan base makes it even sweeter.
Thank you Steeler Nation, for being great fans, true football fans, and even more, great people.
Hopefully we will be able to enjoy football next season.
To the owners and the members of the players association: Let’s get this done, meet and finalize this issue. Football must be played!
Packers & Steelers fan photo: AP via Syracuse.com