Texas, It’s Like a whole other Steeler Country

September 19th, 2005

Texas, It’s Like a whole other Steeler Country

Seventeen hours after Heinz Field narrowed in my rear view mirror through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, I was standing in a Lowe’s hardware store parking lot in Texas. At 4:45 A.M., under the full moon, the legendary jersey numbers started emerging from the darkness: 12, 32, 58, 75, 88, and then 7, 36, 43, 55, 86. Soon it didn’t look like any ordinary Dallas, Texas parking lot, but a corner of the Twilight Zone populated by Steelers fans. It was here in Lewisville, Texas that 74 Steeler fans, including me, boarded two buses. Next stop Reliant Stadium in Houston.

“Where’s Stallworth?” the bus driver asked. “Oh I see him. Number 82’s over there.”

The “Men of Steel North Texas Chapter” chartered the buses and provided a Terrible Towel and road trip hat for everyone. A group of transplanted Pittsburghers came up with the unofficial name over a cold beer one day. They plan a bus trip every year and meet at bars such as the Point After North and Austin Avenue to watch Steelers games. On the road we watched Super Bowl XIII in its entirety, including commercials. I was on the edge of my seat the whole game, hoping nobody would spoil the ending for me.

Our pit stop in Fairfield, Texas included bathroom breaks, smoke breaks, and a refueling of beer. Years a go I attended a wedding in Fairfield so this stop brought back many fond memories. But this Sunday morning at the Love’s truck stop looked more like an invasion, and a once quiet place was suddenly overrun by a sea of Steelers fans. Yet as quickly as we came, we were gone. Our destination waited further on down I-45.

It is strange to imagine, but I wasn’t always a Steelers fan. I grew up in Houston, as an Oilers fan. So this road trip was a strange return to the home of my youth. Returning to the site of the eighth wonder of the world wearing Black and Gold brought mixed emotions. Ten years ago as the Steelers were heading to Super Bowl XXX, I was suffering a prolonged illness of the Oilers. They were soon to leave Houston and I felt lost without an NFL team to call my own. Luckily, I had already met my wife, a good girl from Pittsburgh. And though the Oilers were always thwarted, I had a respect for Mean Joe when I was a kid. And if there is one thing Steelers and Oilers fans shared, it was a common dislike of the Cowboys. So during Super Bowl XXX I became a Steelers fan.

If you’ve never been to Houston in the summer, it’s hot. If you live in Houston, it’s damn hot. Apparently the air conditioning was in the fritz this Sunday because they left the roof open on a day when it was 100 degrees in the shade. So “The Men of Steel” which is about half women, watched the game al fresco. We had a whole section of seats to ourselves, which produced a loud Steeler presence until the final second of play.

Besides my seated compadres, I also met a few other Steeler faithful around the stadium. One of the other bus trips that I met was a group from Monterrey, Mexico. Proof that you don’t have to be from Pittsburgh to bleed Black and Gold. So if you find yourself in Mexico on a Sunday visit Mezquite Stop Bar in Monterrey, Mexico or the Steel Tractor in Mexico City.

My sincere thanks to everyone for making it a memorable event. Special thanks to John Sauers for organizing everything and Tom Albert for picking me up at 4:30 A.M. It just goes to show you that you can show up as a total stranger but as long as you share a love of Steelers football, you’ll make friends fast.

Final outcome:

Steelers defeat the Houston Texans 27-7

In 112 degree heat

Texas, It’s Like a whole other Steeler Country

View the Photo Gallery for this post

Comments are closed.