Here at The Sports Fan Journal, we hope to evolve and deliver something not found in any other corner of this here internet. We bring you Mark Trible and Dillon Friday's NFL Countdown project. A fan from each NFL team will be featured as we anxiously away the season's kickoff.
Someone needs to tell the fans' stories. What better place than their trusty Journal?
Without further ado, meet Pittsburgh Steelers fan Eddie Bassey.
“When I first started watching, there were levels to my fandom. I picked them on the video game, because yellow was my favorite color,” the 30-year-old says. “Then, I started watching on TV. There was nothing like seeing a bunch of towels being waved all over the TV and making it yellow everywhere.
“People see it, and they know what it is.”
What started out as a then-young Eddie Bassey innocently picking a team on Tecmo Super Bowl transformed into a grown man who is completely invested in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The finance grad from the University of North Texas has experienced mostly successful times as a fan of the Steelers. Whether he watches the game at a Steelers bar in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, or in the comfort of his home, the man they call Eddie B. is always watching.
However, he grew frustrated over the last few seasons, which leads to cautious optimism entering 2014. He tries to remain calm about his team’s opportunities, but when he gets to talking about the Steelers, the passion he developed as a child surfaces in adulthood.
Bassey’s passion remains evident when he discusses some of his favorite times as a fan of the Steelers. For him, Santonio Holmes game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl 43 against the Arizona Cardinals stands out. On the previous Cardinals drive, Larry Fitzgerald scored a long touchdown to take the lead from the Steelers — but not for long. Ben Roethlisberger led a masterful 78-yard drive down the field that ended in the Holmes catch.
“I remember being at home, and I jumped out the seat, ran all upstairs, just going crazy,” he recalls, as he replays the sequence aloud. “My foot caught the rug, and I almost broke my toe. To this day, seeing the catch gives me chills.
“I didn’t even care that I almost broke my toe. The excitement of that moment was priceless, especially since I was almost in tears the drive before when Larry scored that touchdown.”
There have been some not-so-favorite moments for Bassey as well, which he distinctly remembers in detail. He laughs about them now, but they were far from funny at the time. Two of them have direct ties with his hometown.
“The second Larry Brown interception in Super Bowl 30 against the Cowboys. That one stung, and when it happened, I knew it was a wrap,” he remembers. “Another was Super Bowl 45 in Dallas. I was snowed in all week in Dallas and couldn’t go to anything because the weather was so bad.
“My favorite team was in the Super Bowl, in my hometown, and I couldn’t get to anything. By the day of the game, I couldn’t get anywhere near Cowboys Stadium, so a couple of friends and I went to Black Finn and watched the game with some Steelers fans who came in from out of town.”
It was easy for Eddie B. to identify the Steelers fans that night in Dallas — as it is anytime he watches the Steelers — because they all came together under The Terrible Towel, the yellow towel the Pittsburgh faithful have spun for decades. It’s something he takes pride in. Bassey realizes the significance the towel has in uniting Steelers fans for one common cause.
“You can just have it hanging out of your pocket, and people know what it is. Having something that everyone can do together, especially when you are in a place with other Steelers fans, makes me feel real good.”
He enjoys watching games with other Steelers fans, despite Pittsburgh's recent struggles on the field. He admits that experiencing so much success as an adult with his team has made it a challenge to watch the Steelers the past few years.
“I’m used to seeing them compete and do well,” Eddie B. says. “I’m used to talking trash. I can’t talk now. When we went overseas and lost to the Vikings, and it didn’t ruin my day, I knew I became apathetic. I knew we were trash, so I didn’t get that mad.”
He laughs as he recounts the team’s troubles last season. Perspective keeps Bassey grounded.
“As a fan, I’ve seen so much success with my team that now that they are down, it doesn’t affect me as much. I still have the license plate on the front of my car and the little mini two-inch helmet on the desk, so people still know what it is. I have no reason to be ashamed. “
With that knowledge and sense of realism as a fan, Eddie B. trudges on. Despite the frustration of missing the playoffs the last two seasons, he won’t let it ruin his love for the Steelers. He’s prepared for another season of black-and-gold football and will still watch with the people while vowing not to let what may happen get to him.
Kenny Masenda is a fan of the game, and an admirer of the culture. You can find more of what makes him tick at his Facebook profile located here.