Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Now I'm torn.
There were so many messages in our AFC North inbox about the topic of fan loyalty and the Pittsburgh Steelers that I want to make sure everyone in our community has their say.
The other part of me believes the thread has gone strong for four days now and it's time to move on.
So as a solution, this will be the final "Thought of the Day" post on this topic. It's a mix of letters from fans of all four AFC North teams.
If you want to provide your concluding arguments on this topic, have at it in the comment section.
Jeff from Dayton, OH, writes: James, I wanted to comment on the whole "Steelers fans vs. Browns fans" debate in case you do a day 4. Firstly I think that both fanbases are among tops in the NFL and as a Bengals fan, that is hard for me to say. Its just so easy to be a fan of the team that just won their 6th Super Bowl that I have to give a slight edge to the Browns. I mean they lost their team and when it came back their fanbase was as strong as ever. Also, I hate it when people call fanbases bandwagon because they aren't talking trash online. As a Bengals fan this year, what trash could I talk?
Paul from Greenwood, SC, writes: Hey James, Thanks for posting this if it does get posted. I wanted to comment on the thought of the day. Their was a time when Pittsburgh was in the same boat as Cleveland is in now in the mid 80's to round 91 that they only made the playoffs once. Also during that time period they had several losing seasons, but the fans took care of their team in that era. So for the fans that want to say that the Steeler Nation would dissolve they need to take a look back then. It was hard times, but we made it through then and supported our team. Yes, there are some people that jump on the band wagon for winning teams such as the Steelers, Cowboys, and Patriots, but for the most part Steeler fans have been fans for awhile. Just a thought from a Steelers fan.
Evan from Fountain Valley, CA, writes: After living on both coastlines of this country I can say one thing is for sure. Steeler, Cowboy and Raider (in CA that is) fans are more often than any other fans completely ignorant about the game of football. They put their decals on their car, talk a lot of bunk, start trouble with fans of any other team but are instantly quiet when you ask who their nose tackle is? Or what a nose tackle is for that matter. Sure, there are some Steeler fans who aren't but a vast majority of those fans are the NFL equivalent of what Brittany Spears fans are to fine music. It is trendy, they win and they want to be part of the "cool kids.” I have no love of the browns, but at least their fans stick with their team even when they truly stink.
Jake from Altoona, PA, writes: James, I'm sick and tired of hearing everyone complain about bandwagoners - this is sports - IT WILL HAPPEN. But I AM A DIEHARD STEELERS FAN. I'm 21 yrs old and remember watching the Steelers every Sunday as far back as I can remember. I've gone to various basketball games they've had (vs. Tyrone All-stars) and I have about 30 signatures of players (Joey Porter is the best one). One that I'm most proud of is my signature of Mike Webster on my Terrible Towel, and the picture I have of when I was 12ish wearing his 4 Super Bowl Rings (none of which I was around for) and his HOF ring. Even better than the picture though was getting to sit around and talk with the man for a few hours. That's why most (not all because of the bandwagoners) of our fans are loyal. Because our athletes are great people. But with everyone always complaining, is your hatred of Pittsburgh just because everyone is jealous that their favorite franchise can't make the same intelligent decisions that benefit the Steelers on a yearly basis??
Brian from Indianapolis writes: Great Blog! AFC NORTH ROCKS! NOW, On the matter of Tom from Brooklyn, growing up in L.a. then moving to colts country, the reason why Steeler fans are so loyal and travel so well is this: The Team plays, acts, and talks like they still are in the hard times of Pittsburgs steel era. Theres no drama, no high price free agents And America buys into that! The steelers fans, bandwagon or not, buy into the system that you work for what you have, and thats the steelers! And ha, you know its not cause their jerseys are "hot" thats why they are so popular, they havent changed in 40 years.
Fionn from Wilmington writes: After seeing what Chris Carr said about the Ravens, I am sure that pissed off all these steelers and browns fans arguing about who has the best fans. Here is his quote, "I just always had a feeling about Baltimore and how it would be cool to play for them," Carr said. "Playing in Baltimore, the two times I've played there in my career, I was like, 'Man, these are the best fans.' There's no better place to play." Also, he visited cleveland and pittsburgh and chose Baltimore over both. This is the most credible input to this argument because this is coming from a player with no bias; unlike every single fan that has posted their opinion. Chris must also be a reader of the AFC North blog because he had perfect timing with his quote. Keep up the good work James.
Alex from Philly writes: As a Steeler fan born and raise in the iladelph, I would like to say I bleed black and gold. watching the steelers play with my dad (pittsburgh born and raised) just made me love them. I have been through think and thin with all the pittsburgh team growing up in philly, gone to phillies games where pirates gear. since i have grown i have come to love baseball and have picked up the phillies as my team in 2000 (before MLB ticket). they were 65-97 that season, however i still continue to pull for the bucos (except when playing the phils), and try to make at least a series in pittsburgh each year. with the pirates new stadium they still draw a good crowd and people still support them but it is harder to get all 162 games without getting MLB ticket and for a fan who roots for the pirates, it cant always be afforded. Football is easier to see every game. thanks for the time, go BUCOS!
John from Fort Myers, FL, writes: Normally I don't get involved in things like this, but your "thought of the day" really convinced a lot of people to email you and it bothers me when people say things about my Steelers and they don't know what they're talking about. The fact is that the Browns and Steelers both have huge fan bases. When you have that many people rooting for your team, there are bound to be some people who just don't share the passion most AFC North blog readers have. This is not an indictment on the teams or their fans. Every team in every sport has fans who only follow the team when they're winning. However, to imply that Steelers fans are fairweather is ridiculous. The Steelers have the largest fanbase in professional sports, and yes, a lot of that has to do with consistent success. But I worked at Heinz Field in 2003 when the Steelers went 6-10, and every single game was completely sold out. The stadium was packed even when it was obvious we weren't making the playoffs. When Steelers fans email you and say "Steelers fan 4 life" it's because they mean it. That kind of enthusiasm should be applauded. For those of you who want to take shots at the other Pittsburgh sports, the Penguins sell out every game. Also, I went to a Pirates-Twins spring training game down here in Fort Myers and there were just as man
y Pirates fans as Twins fans, if not more.
Kaleem writes: Hey James, please do me a favor and ask both Brown fans and Baltimore fans why BOTH cities lost their football teams if their fans were indeed so loyal! Modell said he had to borrow money to pay Andre Rison. Without a doubt Cleveland, Baltimore, and the rest of the NFL's teams have diehard - loyal fans. they just don't number those of the Steelers, that simple!
Josh from Brunswick, OH writes: Hey JW!! Good stuff. I feel as though I need to chime in when it comes to the discussion/debate of who has better fans. To start, I am a Browns fans so I will try not to show bias. I have to believe there is a certain percentage of fans of both teams that are dedicated (season ticket holders, etc), however there seems to be a growing number of Steelers fans in the Cleveland area. Are they bandwagoners? Who knows, but I am 95% certain that if/when the Browns start winning, the amount of Steelers gear on people and in stores in this area will diminish. It really irritates to see s sporting goods store in my town, merchandising the same amount of Steelers gear as Browns gear. Add that to the growing number of "Steelers Bars". That's bad and why is that. People are spending money on the stuff. I know Browns fans aren't buying. Either fans in the area decided to root for the Steelers or Pittsburgh is losing population every year because people are moving to the Cleveland area. Again, I will see what happens when the Browns are actually winning again to see where the loyalty of my fellow fan lies.
John from Pittsburgh writes: James, while I appreciate the debate raised by Browns and Ravens I think one important fact is being overlooked. none of the teams in afc north are sexy picks. they aren't Peyton Manning's Colts or the greatest show on turf. the Browns and Bengals have incredibly loyal fan bases despite having a recent history of losing, and as for the Steelers and Ravens, they play smash mouth defensive football. Football most people consider to be boring. any fan who tunes in to watch a 7-6 slug fest in which the teams combine for 400 yards offensively is a true fan. and lets let the argument die with that.
Joe from Atlantic City writes: James, I think your Thought of the Day has substantiated that the AFC North has one of the strongest fan bases in the NFL. We're fans, so obviously everyone thinks their fanbase is the best and that their team is the best. My thoughts are: who cares, to each their own. Does a Forbes list of team values and ticket prices dictate fan loyalty? Not really. Sticking by a team through tough times is loyalty, but is it really that different between fans from different teams? Not really, diehard fans are diehard fans. Is a Steelers/Browns/Ravens/Bengals fan's loyalty discredited because they don't show the same support to another sport in their town? No, why should it be, we don't have to watch the other sports to be a "loyal" fan. I'm a Steeler's fan, my team's number 1. Not because I say so, but because my team has a shiny, brand new, Superbowl Trophy. Fan loyalty never brought that to a team, so let's quit talking about loyalty and start talking about some football.