Note: I originally published this piece in Barnestormin in August of 2005. It seemed more timely now, so here it is again.
One evening last August, we were all sitting in the Maritime Pacific brewery pub in Seattle, a stop on our barhopping tour for my brother Sean’s bachelor party. I’d just come in from the street after having a smoke, and I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer. The place was loud with the conversations of my brothers and their friends at a couple of tables in the back corner, closest to the bar. That din was added to by the conversations of a couple of other wedding parties at two large tables in the front of the pub.
The bartender with the Prince Valiant haircut looked at me like I was goofy earlier when I’d asked him if he had any matches—“This is a smoke-free bar,” he said with a horrified expression.
My brother Duane sat down next to me. At six feet five inches tall, and at least 250 pounds, Duane is obviously a former college football player. He played for West Virginia’s Mountaineers for three bowl appearances.
He was sitting on the bar stool next to me and he leaned toward me, wearing a slack-jawed, simpleton look:
“So how ‘bout them Stillers?”
He was trying to start conversation, and he said it seems that the team could be pretty good this year. I said that’s what I’ve heard, but we’ll see. We talked on, and somewhere along the way, the old saying came up. I don’t know who said it first, but whoever uttered the words did so in a guttural Pittburghese:
“Here we go Steelers, here we go!”
I repeated it a bit louder, in a more Pittsburghese voice:
“Ear we go Stillers, ear we go!”
Duane picked it up again, and he and I called out the words in unison, louder, and clearer: “Here we go Steelers, here we go!”
By that time, my brothers and Sean’s other Pittsburgh friends had picked up the chorus, and our voices overwhelmed the others in the room as we half-sang and half-yelled out the saying, with many of us following the second “here we go” with two taps of our beer glasses on the tables and bar. After the twenty or so of us repeated the phrase several times at the top of our lungs, we all broke into cheers and toasts and drinks.
I looked around at the few dozen others in the small bar, people not from Pittsburgh, and they’d all gotten quiet and were staring at us with stunned looks, like they weren’t even quite sure what we’d been chanting. I shook my head and laughed, feeling a Pittsburgh superiority because these Seattleites didn’t recognize the chant of the fans of the Super Bowl Steelers.
It was a chant that we’d all said in Three Rivers Stadium during the games, and on our way out of the stadium after another win. The saying was a prayer that we’d go to the Super Bowl. It also was meant to be something of a threat to the teams that would play the Steelers in upcoming game. It was Pittsburgh’s unofficial anthem. This was, of course, before someone made the phrase into a dopey-sounding song.
When the Super Bowl Steelers had preeminence on the gridiron, many people in the area were losing jobs in the industry that had built up western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl victories were like a gift from above when we needed it the most. Back in those days, even tea-totaling fans had parties with black-and-gold streamers and three or four television sets blaring the game in different rooms, and plenty of beer and food for the neighbors and friends. These wins momentarily took our parents’ minds off of worrying about their jobs, and our future.
Through it all, that old prayer never lost its hope. These days, even the most cynical Steelers fan is liable to start humming the phrase again.