We Are The Young, The Cursed Generation - By Neal Coolong
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Cast your mind back. Can you recall ONE Patriots fan spanning from the year 1987 through 1993? Even with the end result of Drew Bledsoe hooking up with Bill Parcells, that entire generation of fans was tortured. They had NUTHIN'!
Same situation with the Chargers. They had players who spent careers with them with little semblance of success.
Now, with people's natural instinct to root for the underdog, but proudly display colors of the winners, Patriots and Chargers fans today are more common than celebrity divorce. Even moreso for Eagles and Falcons fans, with no credit given to Ron Mexico.
Steelers fans aren't necessarily cut from that ilk, in the sense that we've had a ton of success since our last Super Bowl win. We even had a stretch of mediocrity in there (pretty much all of the 1980's). We've noticed our instant Black-'n-Gold brethren walking on and off their respective bandwagon (I know the hits on this site quadrupled in the time we went 6-10 to 15-1).
Even with the Steelers past record in my lifetime, I still feel like a Patriots fans post-Super Bowl 1986 and pre-Bledsoe/Brady.
See, I was born in 1979, a few months before the Steelers won their last ring. While I wasn't old enough to writhe in the far-from-spectacular 1980's run they had, I was right there when they lost to San Diego in 1994. I remember with chillingly sick and painful accuracy hearing that Mike Tomczak is going to be their starting quarterback.
I saw every snap Kordell Stewart took.
The point here isn't to rehash my bitterness. It's to explain it. There are far more Steelers fans who can say they saw all four Super Bowl wins than us younger 20-somethings who haven't. We hear the stories of The Immaculate Reception, but have only seen the grainy video replay. We played football in the back yard with our dads pretending to be Terry Bradshaw while we were Bam Morris. We have several painful losses in our memory with no solace while they have the sweet vision of fingers full of gold on which to rest their weary minds.
The younger generation here isn't any different from the career-fans of Seattle, for example. They have never seen a title, but neither have we. I'm choosing to speak out on this as I'm one of the oldest Steelers fans who have never witnessed a Super Bowl win. Indianapolis is a good example of the same silent sorrow on which no one sympathizes. They have the Baltimore title days. But none in Indianapolis. Sure, our parents had the Steel Curtain, but all we have is Neil O'Donnell-to-Larry Brown. But at the same time, we're not going to get a sympathetic nod as for difficulties coming with rooting for a team in a 25-year drought. Even though we've never experienced the thrill of winning one title (let alone four), we are expected to have the same air of humility around fans of teams (except Vikings fans) who haven't won one.
Yeah, I guess I am kind of whining. I'm tempestuous, even. This feeling grows even stronger when you're looking at 43 members of the Steelers current roster has the same experience I do with Super Bowls; no wins, one loss.
Not that I expect Ben Roethlisberger or Troy Polamalu to be wringing their hands over Pittsburgh's futility in the 1980's, or their lack of ability to win the big one in the 1990's, nor am I saying legends ever die. If you'll allow me to be philosophical for a minute, how can something live if it was never witnessed?
I may even go as far as to bring this statistic up: Of the teams with the most Super Bowl wins (Dallas, San Francisco, Green Bay, New England and Pittsburgh), the Steelers have the longest drought. All their fans have seen at least one, by and large. Mine is a generation of frustration.
Maybe Pittsburgh's recent influx of youthful talent (Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, Antwaan Randle-El) can be the difference in the future for the steel city. We all know how young they've gone with their secondary (corners taken in the second round of the last two drafts), and no one in the civilized world hasn't read about our quarterback. Maybe he can lead us into a new generation of success. It'd only be fitting, right?