Steelers fandom loves ‘a cult’? Weigh-in of current and former players

Have you ever walked down the aisles of a Giant Eagle on Steelers Sunday?

Have you ever walked the Strip…literally any day?

If so, you have seen it. Jerseys. Hats. Horrible towels.

Even shoes.

In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are not a football team. It’s a lifestyle. As cliché and/or comical as it may sound to an outsider, those born here (or those simply raised on black and gold principles) know the score.

The Steelers infiltrate every aspect of life.

But you don’t even have to walk to a Pittsburgh-area grocery store to witness it for yourself. Just take it from players, past and present.

“Go to Wal-Mart or Target –– you know! You are from [Ohio] — you know what it is,” former Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon said. Rachel DeMita during a recent episode of his podcast, Courtyard Club. “You’re going to see a baby to an 85-year-old lady to a guy who looks like a substitute teacher all wearing Steeler jerseys. And all over Pittsburgh on a Friday –– maybe a Thursday –– the city is dripping in black and gold. And that’s just what it is.

So what is it then, Mr. Colon? To chase. Say it.

“I say it all the time,” Colon continued. “Being a Steeler is like being part of a religion. It’s definitely like a cult.

Does that sound too extreme? I think Steelers fans aren’t quite this intense?

A) If you or anyone you know lives the Steelers life, you know Colon is right.

B) Let’s ask a current player to weigh in.

“I think when guys like Willie talk about that, they’re just talking about the pride you feel playing for the Steelers,” Chris Wormley said Friday at the UMPC Rooney Sports Complex. “History, tradition: all this kind of pieces [a] it doesn’t matter how long you play here, if you’re here for a season or if you’re here for your whole career like Ben [Roethlisberger] and cam [Heyward] have [been].”

Now, you would think that every NFL team has this type of passionate fanbase and following. Of course, the Steelers permeate the city like “a cult,” as Colon put it. But that may be the case everywhere.


Colon ended his career with the New York Jets after six seasons with the Steelers and spoke at length on the podcast about the differences between the Steelers and Jets organizations.

Wormley took it a step further by comparing a rival team, the Ravens.

“I think Baltimore – let me talk about Baltimore very quickly,” Wormley began with a laugh. “Baltimore, you know, has only been around for about 25 years and the Steelers are…”

Wormley paused a bit, perhaps feeling the hot water pinch his toes.

“Listen, I grew up as a Toledo, Ohio Steelers fan and I grew up watching these guys every Sunday and I could kind of get a sense of what this organization was like from afar,” he continued. “[Then] you enter the league, you play them once a year, twice a year. When I was in Baltimore, you got that feeling even more.

“And now being here is like, ‘OK. That’s what the NFL is all about. The organization, the lore, all that stuff plays into the mystique — I guess , if you’re not one of them — the Steelers.

As if that wasn’t enough, Colon left with another story. And this one is almost too good to be true (and yet I totally believe it).

“I remember one time when I was on IR and I think we had like an afternoon game,” Colon said. “It was like a 4:25 [p.m.] Thu. I had been to the 1 p.m. service, and the service is literally underway, and the padre said, ‘Hey, it’s almost game time. Let’s get it over with. to the congregation. And everyone was like, ‘Amen.’ Outside.

“And it was like that.”

Listen to an extended version of Courtyard Club podcast with Colon here:

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