Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers kept people connected in tough times


In the 1970s, Pittsburgh sports experience­d a golden era, highlighte­d by the rise of the Steelers. At the time, the Steelers were becoming a great team, but you did not realize you were experienci­ng something that was historic and beyond the realm of just sports.

The Steelers’ success (along with that of the 1970s Pirates and Pitt football teams) could not have come at a better time, as the loss of thousands of steel jobs was quickly arising. By the time 1979 arrived and the Steelers and Pirates both won championsh­ips, crowning us as “The City of Champions,” Pittsburgh was facing difficult times ahead.

The Steelers story was the exact opposite. The team was rising to dominance after 40 years of futility, as Pittsburgh was losing its hard-forged identity as the steel capital of the world. This had put the city on the map during the war effort and industrial revolution. Soon, unemployme­nt would rage here. People left en masse for jobs in other regions. For those who were forced to scatter about the country, the Steelers provided a connection back home, thus came the rise of the “Steeler Nation.” How important was that for the city’s psyche during the tough 1980s and beyond? The Steelers’ success story kept us relevant in the national consciousn­ess and gave those who were struggling a diversion every Sunday. This cannot be understate­d.

As a young man, I was lucky to witness the Steelers’ 1970s dynasty in person. At Three Rivers Stadium, you didn’t they were going to win, you just I’ve never had a feeling like it at any other sporting event. The Rooneys built it, from Chuck Noll to all the great players.

Steeler Nation mourns but is fondly reminded that the Steelers’ rise gave our city so much more. Rest in peace, Dan Rooney, and thank you! THOMAS VESCH


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