Cardinals fans are showing a little spark. New Times was on hand at Sky Harbor International Airport to see what organizers estimated was 1,800 people cheer on the team as members boarded a plane to Tampa.

Contrast that to the number of people who showed up in 20-degree weather to see the Steelers off to Tampa that morning — 30,000, according to Pittsburgh TV station WTAE — and you see what this story is getting at.


Even if they were playing the Baltimore Ravens (a team that wears purple and employs a stupid marching band to play at halftime) or the San Diego Chargers (a squad that's also from a Sun Belt city with a large percentage of fair-weather fans), Arizona's genteel Cardinal fans would have their work cut out for them in Super Bowl XLIII.

They're matched up against the grubbiest, loudest, and nastiest fan base in all of sports — as well as one of the largest.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are White Trash America's team. Though Raiders, Eagles, and Browns fans certainly have their own reputations for trashy behavior, Steelers fans win the prize for crudeness. It's hard to find a trailer park anywhere in the country that doesn't have a black-and-yellow flag fluttering from the door of a doublewide.

Anecdotal evidence of the mindset of Steelers fans is everywhere — do a search for "Steelers fans" on YouTube and bear witness to a 90-year-old woman getting the team's logo tattooed on her arm at her family's insistence and a guy who became estranged from his brothers after he put a giant Steelers logo on his father's tombstone.

But there's much more than that out there.

Take the team's official band, a country act called The PovertyNeck Hillbillies. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appeared in the video for the group's song "Mr. Right Now."

Or the team's mascot, Steeley McBeam (that is, the guy who portrays him), blowing twice the legal limit during his DUI arrest last year. Or the way a Steelers fan accidentally set fire in November to a dozen Redskins fans' vehicles in Washington by leaving a grill full of burning coals in the back of his car. Or Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's calling a press conference to say he'd temporarily changed his name to Luke Steelerstahl before the Ravens and his hometown team met in the AFC Championship game.

Before that contest, some strings were pulled to have a Terrible Towel waved on the International Space Station (no word on whether the astronaut Steelers fan was part of some experiment to see how hillbillies fare in a zero-gravity environment).

A columnist for the Baltimore Examiner summed it up pretty well in an article called, "Why do we hate Steelers fans? Let me count the reasons," where he described them as wearing "stone-washed, black Wranglers with a 'Terrible Towel' hanging from the back pocket like Cooter from The Dukes of Hazzard."

Geography has a lot to do with why some Steelers fans are the way they are.

Pittsburgh's the largest city in the massive poverty-stricken backwoods known as Appalachia, and the Steelers are the only NFL team that plays on Appalachian soil. (Technically, Nashville and Charlotte, where the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers play, respectively, aren't in Appalachia). The heart of the Steelers fan base is in the moonshine-making hills of western Pennsylvania and hollows of West Virginia, and their location colors much about them.

Take Myron Cope, the longtime Steelers broadcaster who died last year. His calls were screeched in a hillbilly patois nearly indecipherable to the ears of somebody accustomed to Standard American English. But, in the Steel City, his "Pittsburghese" made him a deity. "Kin yinz belif tha way he moved that pal? Yoi, he's slippy!"

Thing is, many Steelers fans may be impoverished but they find a way to support their team. The last time the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, ESPN columnist Greg Garber speculated their fans outnumbered Seahawks fans 25 to 1.

At a neutral-site game like the Super Bowl, cheering goes beyond the intangible effect of getting players psyched up. Home teams usually get more calls, and referees unconsciously seem to respond to all the spinning piss-yellow towels.

Ask Seattle Seahawks fans about referee Bill Leavy's "shameful" performance in Super Bowl XL. Ex-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren addressed it at a post-season rally: "We knew it was going to be tough going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."

Cardinals fans, that's what could happen if you get out-cheered all game long — the Super Bowl will be turned into a Steelers home game.

Maybe that's why Steelers fans are so cocky going into this weekend. In the Valley, Steelers faithful certainly aren't suffering from the crisis of confidence that almost made the aforementioned Clayton Jacobson take a swing at another Cards fan.

Kim Chapman describes herself as a "hardcore" Steelers fan. "I would say, Steelers by at least 14," she says smugly.

Chapman, who watches Pittsburgh games at First Round Draft in Gilbert, one of a half-dozen Steelers bars in the Valley, has little respect for the Cardinals or their fans: "They're playing in a college stadium for how many years, and they finally got their own official NFL stadium a couple years ago? Come on!"

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16 comments
Kathy
Kathy

How sad that Phoenix's village idiot tried to instill some enthusiasm into the Cardinal's fan base by trashing the faithful of the GLOBAL Steeler Nation. If this writer is indicative of the Cardinal faithful, my advice to the super, class act of Whisenhunt & Company is...get out of there...quick!

heather
heather

"And they are. But even if they win this Super Bowl, they'd still have only half as many championships as the Green Bay Packers. They'd need three more rings to have as many as the Chicago Bears, two more to have as many as the Cleveland Browns, or one more to have as many as the New York Giants." Where do you get your facts from? They are totally wrong. I guess fairweather fans don't need to know what they are writing about.

Chris
Chris

Congrats to the Cards for making the Superbowl one of the best ever. It will be one talked about for a long time.

Now to the pressing issue.

Why would the editor of this paper even allow this to be published? Not only does it make the author look like a complete ass, but it also makes his boss look like an ass for publishing this garabge. Your city was on the verge of a blackout for two playoff games because your fans are better than us because you have money that us hillbillies do not. So you put us down for pretty much everything we stand for but what you really did is show the "STEELER NATION" what ignorance comes from by having money. I get it now. Rich people are better than us white trash losers who support are team 365 days a year NO MATTER WHAT!

I am okay with trash talking if it is in clean fun but you sir went WAY TOO FAR by putting down a man who has been a Steeler icon for years, who passed away last year may I remind you because of the way he talks. Myron Cope is one of the most respected individuals from this area who invented our "piss-colored towel" to generate money for Mentally Handicapped individuals, one of which is his son. But let me guess, being that your a poor excuse for a human being, you would find a reason to put down the handicapped as well because they live in hillbillie country. Go fuck yourself! I may not be swimming in money, but at least I know what it is like to struggle and survive and not be catered to hand and foot by a maid or butler. I find it more satisfying to actually work hard to get what I have. Western Pennsylvania is probably one of the hardest working group of individuals any where in the country. I am proud to be from Pittsburgh. There is no where like it in the world.

Hogan
Hogan

Sounds like someone is taking his ball and going home....boo f'n hoo jag

Hogan
Hogan

Sounds like someone is taking his ball and going home....boo f'n hoo jag

john morrow
john morrow

come on guys. we don't show this kind of disrespect for anyone. hey, did anyone see warner's interview before the game? HE HAD ON A BLACK SUIT WITH A WHITE SHIRT AND A GOLD TIE. even he's a ateeler fan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stu
Stu

Wow Sparky, did you swallow extra moron pills this morning? The best you got was that our mascot got arrested for a DUI? I guess he must have been out partying with the now unemployed former mascot of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Oh gosh, we're all rednecks and uneducated yokels from Appalachia. Did you have to look up where that was on a map and then use Spell Check? It's no wonder the Cardinals have no fans. The average age of Maricopa County is deceased, and the ones that aren't snuck in over the border. I just got back from Tampa, and wow do your supporters have a lot to learn about how to be fans. Whining and complaining that every call on their team means the refs must have been paid off, but if a call goes your way, then that time the refs "finally called one." Let's just say that there were quite a few Cards' fans(?) who fit the description you were trying to pin on Steeler nation. Drunken louts who were so inebriated by half time that they couldn't even see straight by the time the Cards managed to take the lead. Speaking of taking the lead, quite a few of the Cards' fans in our section need to take few etiquette lessons in how to act with a lead, or as they have nopw unfortunately learned, it ain't over until it's over.

Don't even get me started on the Ryan Clark hit on Willis McGahee. Clark led with his shoulder and McGahee lowered his helmet. McGahee, and the Ravens all acknowledge that it was a clean hit, but I guess you're more a of a fottball expert than they are.

Please feel free to continue believing that our area is populated by hicks and yokels, but I'm pretty sure the caliber of our educational institutions here leaves yours somewhere in the Mexican desert. I'll take Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Pittsburgh's Medical school over any institute of higher(?) learning you folks have in the Valley of the Sun.

You don't honestly believe that what you wrote about Steeler fans influencing officials at neutral site games, do you?

It's amazing how every member of the Steeler defense is a thug, but every member of the Cardinals is an upstanding member of the community who visits children's hospitals daily, work at the community food bank, and get folks to donate over 5,000 pints of blood because his son has Leukemia. Oh wait, my bad, that was Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith respectively.

In closing, you should probably go back to covering golf tournaments, NASCAR races and Suns' games. Your football team will most likely fall into the storied tradtion of one and done teams from the NFC lately. The one thing I do remember walking out of Raymond James on Sunday night was Steeler fans congratulating Cardinal fans on a game well played and they should be very proud of how far their team came this year, and the response of Go F*#K yourself from the Cardinal fans.

You stay classy Phoenix.

Marcus
Marcus

Weak and hateful article.

The hillbillies are celebrating the ONLY team in NFL history to record 6 Super Bowl wins!

Cameron
Cameron

You know as I was reading this article, I found my self getting angry. Then I realized that this article was coming out of a city that has no sense of what it is like to win. Winning is a good feeling and it is nice to root for a team that respects the city it represents. I am sorry that you guys do not know what it is like to win. It is a great feeling. The cards came out of a the worst division in football at 9-7. That is sad. The Steelers came out of the toughest schedule at 12-4. No brainier who is the best team. Hopefully we will play the cards next year and beat them again. Fitzgerald and Warner are the only good personalities on that team. Fitzgerald will go on to great things but not with that organization.

JOHNNY JONES
JOHNNY JONES

well say all you want, you boys lost to a better team

Cameron
Cameron

Obviously this writer has not been to Pittsburgh. But what does it matter. We have 6 Super Bowl Wins and the red birds have...oh what is it? Thats right 0!!!!!!! After the cards lose Warner this year, you guys will not even stiff the playoffs. Good Luck as we make our way to the big 7.

Maria
Maria

Give me a damn break! We are NOT trashy! Look at your own damn state-you have Terrible Towels flying high there. It's not our fault that your fans SUCK! We earned SIX Superbowl titles! WE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO GLOAT, BRAG and WHATEVER ELSE! WE ARE A DINESTY! No other team has EVER done what we have done! 100 yard "Immaculate Interception" and who can forget the awesome Santonio Holmes catch? Just face it, your defense sucks! If we were playing Baltimore or Philly, we would've had a challenge. You didn't watch enough tapes and study hard enough-WE DID! We'd rather be loud, obnoxious, trashy fans than fair-weather fans who are sore losers!!!!! SIX-PACK YEAR BABY!!!!!! WELCOME TO SIXBURGH! YAY!!!!

Matt
Matt

The comment about the Steelers winning the AFC Championship because of Clark's hit on McGahee is ridiculous. Did you watch the game? First of all, I'm pretty sure Polamalu's interception return for a touchdown won the game, and until reading this article, I haven't heard one person say that Clark's hit was illegal or dirty...it was just a hard hit with his shoulder, not his head. I respect the run the Cardinals had, and the Super Bowl was a hell of a game, but it seems that the person writing the article about how poor the fan base is, might need to consider assessing his own understanding of the game.

Mathilda
Mathilda

Hillbilly? At least Steelers fans can afford to spend upwards of $1,000 on Super Bowl tickets. Unlike the poor Cardinals fans who obviously couldn't afford to make the trip for their team.

Tammie
Tammie

Most people who claim to "hate" the Steelers and their fans are simply JEALOUS of all that we have accomplished.

Calling us white trash is a bit harsh but fortunately, it runs off of our shoulders as we know better and we know that we ARE BETTER.

 
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