Each week, Steelers fans gather at the Nickel Plate Bar and Grill, just outside Indianapolis in Fishers, Ind. Among these are Amy Burchfield, a 35-year-old native of Toronto, Ohio, and Jason Zanjeski, 33, originally from Weirton, W.Va. They now live in nearby Noblesville, Ind. The two met at Amy's cousin's wedding several years back and plan to marry Nov. 10 in Weirton. Each has a personalized Steeler jersey with his and her future last name on the back. Jason wears No. 11 and Amy No. 10 to acknowledge their upcoming wedding date.
"I let her wear the 10. It reminds me too much of the Kordell days," Jason says with a smile. Their dog Bobo wears a baby onesy Hines Ward jersey. Part of their wedding celebration includes tickets to the Browns game at Heinz Field in November.
Among the friends they've made at the Nickel Plate are Kurt Emmert, his wife and two children. In fact, Kurt, 35, of Anderson, Ind., may be one of the most passionate Steelers fans anywhere. Every day for the past 14 months he's worn some sort of Steelers apparel, and he also runs a Web site, www.indysteelers.com, established to help fans in the area stay connected.
What interested me about this particular report from the field is how the Pittsburgh Steelers help connect non-natives to the city. Mr. Emmert's experience is somewhat like my own. He's not a fan because he's from Pittsburgh. The great teams of the 1970s stretched the following well beyond the region, swelling the ranks of the Burgh Diaspora with people who did not claim Pittsburgh as their hometown.