Today I woke up, broomed the snow off my truck and went to work in the snow. It was awesome. I busted ass till noon, went to lunch with Erik, and low and behold as we sometimes do — we ended up at Rix and I got 2nd tat in as many days
I became a Pittsburgh Steeler fan on January 18, 1976.
That’s when I watched my very first super bowl. I watched with my father, who seemed to have an aversion to the east coast. He was a dallas cowboy fan that day, and as my father often did, he sold me on the virtues of his way of thinking. My father was interesting. He respected a man who stood on his own two feet, but if you had any doubts or waivered, he was there to shoulder that burden for you. Even at a young age I was aware of this.
That January day the Dallas Cowboys who we’re playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. I had no idea what was going on. Black and Gold seemed to have a nice contrasting color, and I had no idea what the west coast really was. I was just spending time with my old man. Life was good. I was 9 years old.
As I watched the game, as 9 year olds would do, I was forming an opinion on what was going on and who *I* was rooting for. I wanted to steer my own ship. I was listening to my father and I knew I was being sold a bill of goods. My father loves underlings. He loves having an ally. My father was a natural captain, and it was always clearly his ship. No one ever disputed that my father had what it took to be captain. On the other hand, Just like My Dad, I was naturally resistant to Captains.
And then it happened. It was a boring game, but the moment happened that would change my life. The game was boring as games go to a 9 year old boy. I remember some small guy tried to kick the football through the goal posts, and missed. One of the dallas guys patted the steeler guy who missed the field goal on the helmet, and a thin, skinny, white INSANE guy ran across the field, threw the Dallas guy to the ground and just…. flipped out. Apparantly the crazy Guy in black didn’t like the dipshit with the star on this helmet touching the guy who kicks balls through the giant “Y”. Another nuance that I’ve yet to see in sports outside of hockey. The referee wanted to throw him out of the game, but he ended up staying. This was getting good now.
The crazy white guy with missing teeth got mad, and took over. No one could block him. I swear to God, no one could block him! He stood behind everyone, pumping his legs up and down waiting for the plays to start, then rushed in and destroyed anyone with a star on their helmet. My dad was wrong! The guys in black are the good guys! “Did you not see the skinny guy destroy that Dallas guy dad? ” “I know everyone East of the Mississippi is a Liberal Pinko, but Dad….are you watching this guy? “ My father seemed miffed. It kept happening. Skinny guy with no teeth wins again! A feeling came over me. It was half a rebellion against my father for obviously trying to sell me, and half this crazy, sweaty toothed linebacker. I just know that right then and there, at that very moment — I became a Pittsburgh Steeler fan. I still remember it.
The steelers went on to win their 2nd super bowl in a row that day. The maniac’s name who sold me was Jack Lambert. He went on to lead the Steelers to two more super bowls, and I watched both of em. I’m not being dramatic when I say Jack Lambert changed my life. I’ve been a steeler fan ever since, and its extended into a love affair with the city of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins and someday I may even enjoy an occaisonal baseball game, if the Pittsburgh Pirates ever manage to win a game or two.
For 20 years I followed the Steelers through 3 of the 4 super bowls they won in the seventies. Then onto the 80s when they couldnt really win anything, to the day they hired Bill Cowher the year I got married and started winning again. Then finally to the day I sat and watched the Steelers win the superbowl with MY kids. I’m 41 years old, and I will be Steeler fan for life. There is no other team.
My 14 year old daughter is a true blue, died in the wool Steeler fan too. She has watched EVERY single game with me for the last 4 years, from playoff disappointments to Super bowl glory. Megan, straight up, is my hero and my best football buddy. Every sunday you will find us on the couch, with our Jerseys on, clutching footballs and waving terrible towells. It is quite possibly the finest moment in my life, and perhaps my pinnacle of fatherhood. She asked me for a ben Roethlisberger jersey for christmas the same year that she gave me an official NFL football that we still pass back and forth on sunday. This Tattoo is for her. She told me to get it.
This post is a tribute to my father, who directly and indirectly inspired me in so many ways. For that day he called me in to watch the superbowl with me, and making me look foward to the day I can share that with my kids. My family are all Steeler fans. Sundays are our day.
Here is a little summary of the guy that started it all. I present to you, Mister Jack Freakin’ Lambert:
I have a few photos hanging on the wall of my office, but my 2 favorites are General George Patton, and my autographed picture of Jack Lambert.
“If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler! . – Jack Lambert, Hall of Fame induction