The Combination Of Steelers And A&M
Disclaimer: This is a slightly more serious post than usual. A lot of people have asked how I got into the sport, the Steelers and how Texas A&M got onto my radar. Hopefully the below post will clear a few things up.
When it comes to the NFL, I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
Before you call me out for being a glory supporter and choosing the team that has won the most Super Bowl’s, there is method in my madness.
A while back, my parents relocated to the city of the three rivers. Before I visited them, I’d only ever watched a few football games. So my knowledge about the sport was limited at best.
That city is completely nuts about one thing. The Steelers. Every person that walks the streets of Pittsburgh will be either wearing something to do with the team, or discussing who should be the third-string quarterback. It’s extremely partizan.
Being around that had a real effect on me. If these people were so crazy about something, it had to be good right? I soon became obsessed with football. Even when I was back home, I’d be at work reading up as much about the sport as I could get away with.
The more I took in, the more I liked. This soon spread to college football.
As a result, I made a conscious effort to watch Week One of the college football season last year.
As much as I loved the atmosphere, pageantry and uniqueness of it, none of the teams particularly appealed to me.
Until week two.
A&M’s season opener had been postponed. They were opening up their season against the Florida Gators and more importantly, it was on TV over here in England.
I will never forget the pundits predict that A&M would do well to win only a couple of games in the SEC and that they would be in for a long, hard season. From what they were saying, I sat there expecting Florida to steamroll their way to victory and for this A&M team to fall off the face of the earth.
Then one man made my jaw hit the floor. Johnny Manziel.
Granted, my football viewing résumé was hardly much to shout about. But in the brief amount I had seen, this was different. It was electric. There I was 5,000 miles away sat late at night, watching something I knew very little about. But it was exciting. I didn’t know everything that was going on but I was really willing this Texas A&M team to win. I hadn’t heard of them before. But for the next few hours, I was supporting them like my life depended on it.
Eventually, they were defeated and I sat there genuinely gutted. Why though? A few hours before I hadn’t even known that Texas A&M existed.
The next day, I read as much as I could about this university that had seemingly stole my heart.
To English people, college sports in America is something that is very difficult to understand. For example, if you went to an English university soccer match, you’d be lucky to find over ten people in attendance. In the US though, college stadiums are bigger than our national soccer stadium, Wembley. That alone is difficult for people to comprehend.
Each Saturday night that I’d try and stay up for an A&M game, I’d use the same logic. I’m staying up this late to watch an amateur sport of a university that I have no connection to? How mad is that? Yet I couldn’t get enough of it.
Even after those early weeks of discovering A&M, I always felt closer to Pittsburgh and the Steelers. Probably because I’d experienced the city and the gameday experience at Heinz Field. My connection with them felt a lot stronger and I probably regarded the NFL as a bigger deal as it’s a a professional sport.
The news soon broke that the Steelers would be coming to London (about 40 minutes from where I live) to play the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley on September 29th 2013 in what the NFL calls the ‘International Series’. I was absolutely over the moon. A chance to watch my beloved NFL team on home soil? Can it get much better?
As a result of the game, I even got to meet Ben Roethlisberger a couple of months before as he was out here promoting the game and getting the mandatory picture next to Big Ben. Compared to some high profile soccer players that I’ve mixed with in the past, he was the most genuine and friendliest sports star I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Everything was building up to the game. I really couldn’t wait.
Then I went to Texas. I experienced College Station for four weeks and now I’m torn. I was so excited about the Steelers playing at Wembley this weekend (even at 0-3!!), but right now if you gave me the option to see A&M at Arkansas instead, I’d bite your hand off. Just to hear the ‘Spirit of Aggieland’ would make me happy.
If you’d told me that I’d feel this way a couple of months ago, I would have laughed at you.
As I write this, it’s currently Friday night here in the UK. I’ve flown back to my homeland for a couple of weeks before returning to College Station for the next round of home games at Kyle Field.
The fact I haven’t got a midnight yell practice to go to tonight makes me surprisingly sad. Perhaps I’ll create my own in the living room of my apartment. At midnight US time, I’m extremely tempted to arise at what would be 6am UK time and pop the Bama midnight yell Youtube video on and start going through the yells. The only problem is that my girlfriend might report me to a mental asylum. It’s worth the risk though, right?
And there we have it. That is how I originally got into the sport. Obviously as I delved deeper into everything I became increasingly fascinated with it all, especially A&M. So fascinated in fact that I left everything behind in the UK to go to Texas and write about it. The rest as they say, is history.
Follow the author on Twitter: @GigEmNation