412 Miles to go to Pittsburgh


I’m a burgher. Straight up. Meet me and it won’t take long to figure that out.  My favorite thing about Pittsburgh to this day is driving through the Fort Pitt tunnels, being in the dimly lit orange tubes, only to have the city burst out in front of you in vivid technicolor. Love that. And I’ll tell you a secret, I still try to hold my breath all the way through.

Now a days I live in Carolina, where football ends sometime around November because thoughts turn to the hardwoods. But I’ll always call the burgh home. And its there I’m heading today. Home for the holidays. And no place I’d rather be.

There’s a lot to look forward to. Moms homemade lasagna and thumb print cookies from Giant Eagle. Tossing nieces and nephews up down and all around till one of us collapses in exhaustion- usually me. Running through my old neighborhood where I delivered a huge bag of newspapers everyday for a good chunk of my formative years. And the Steelers. Of course the Steelers.

There’s something comforting about feeling you are among family anywhere you go in the area. People of all ages are proudly donning their black and gold, from the food court at south hills village to the wood street station, the waiting room at North Hills Passavant  (where I was born) and every single Eat n Park.

And then there is game day at Heinz. Its something special. I’ve been going to games as long as I can remember. And I know this weekend will be no different.
Pittsburgh is a football town. Plain and simple.

Its not like that everywhere. This year I’ve been to three other stadiums, two of them NFC contests. And the differences were palpable. First – Charlotte for a panthers game. Even though they’ve had a team for what 15 years? These guys are still toddlers in terms of fan-ness. Granted they’ve had little to get excited about and teal is a hard color to look tough in, but at least they give a solid effort bringing the noise when it counts. Next up was New Orleans and Drew Brees. Now these guys love their saints and probably have an emotional connection that few would ever understand. But that said, game day starts with a party and party they do. Everything and everyone is a spectacle. Its drink first, drink next and then they get to the football later. Let’s compare that to Heinz- where you drink cold beer, slap meat on a grill and talk football. All day.

I can’t wait. Bring on Renegade.

Some thoughts from the road, it is after all an eight hour drive.

Tamarack is billed as the most exciting place in West Virginia. If a Dicks and an Abercrombie are really your definition of fun times, WV deserves every redneck cousin joke ever told.

You start to see an influx of Steeler plates,stickers and decals right around the Virginia border. Its like a small pilgrimage back to the motherland.

People in the south don’t know how to drive. Period.

Watching people emerge from their cars at rest stops and gas stations is like seeing Puxatony Phil on ground hog day or Edward of twilight fame. They immediately shun the sunlight and give the stink eye to onlookers.

Merry Christmas Steeler fans. Its good to be home.