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Do you secretly root against Steelers players based on where they went to college?

Kenny Pickett, the Steelers’ second-year quarterback from the University of Pittsburgh, is either totally untouchable in terms of criticism or completely disrespected in terms of his potential.

It all depends on who you talk to and maybe even the day of the week that this conversation takes place.

While both extremes are, well, a little extreme, as a Steelers fan, I can at least grasp the idea of being a Pickett Truther. I can wrap my head around acting a little defensive when it comes to Pickett’s haters. I can understand getting quite offended over Pickett’s doubters.

Heck, for that matter, I can wrap my head around the notion of being a Pickett Doubter. Even if you’re a die-hard Steelers fan, I can respect you having your concerns about his abilities; after all, Pickett didn’t do much over his first four years at Pitt, then, boom! He’s one of the best players in the country and suddenly a first-round prospect? Where was this talent over his first four seasons? Plus, those small hands; that above-average arm; the struggles he had as a rookie while throwing just seven touchdowns to nine interceptions.

These are all reasonable things to base your doubts on.

But I can’t wrap my head around actively or secretly rooting against Pickett because you hate Pitt and/or love Penn State.

There seems to be a lot of that going around when it comes to those who criticize Pickett. To paraphrase a phrase: Not all Pickett critics are Penn State fans, but all Penn State fans seem to be Pickett critics.

Is this phenomenon a creation of the social media age? Is this a byproduct of the whole “fan army” sentiment where we so identify with a team that we see its rivals as actual evil people? Does this mean your loyalty lies more with where you went to college than it does with the professional football team you cheer for?

Maybe this was always a thing. However, I’m a lifelong Panthers fan, and I never once rooted against the late, great Franco Harris because he attended college at Happy Valley. Speaking of whom, I wonder how Steelers fans who were loyal to Pitt would have reacted to the Immaculate Reception had social media existed in the early-’70s?

Would Panthers fans have secretly (or even openly) sided with the Raiders?

I wouldn’t have bet against it.

Maybe this is why Jack Ham’s No. 59 is perhaps the least popular jersey among those ’70s Hall of Famers. I mean, there are a lot of Panthers fans in Pittsburgh, and it might be asking too much for them to don a number of a man who was a Nittany Lion in college.

Or maybe these fans are so loyal to Jack Lambert and are jealous that Ham went to an elite program, while Lambert cut his football teeth at tiny Kent State.

I don’t have any answers, just a lot of questions about how you can be a Steelers fan and also root against some of their players simply because of where they went to college.

It’s gross and unseemly.

It’s also counterintuitive if your dream is to see the Steelers win a seventh Lombardi.

Tell the truth:

  • If you’re a Penn State fan, are you secretly hoping Pickett fails as a Steelers quarterback?
  • As a Pitt fan, are you hoping that Joey Porter Jr. is the biggest cornerback bust since the days of Artie Burns?
  • If you’re former Steelers and Florida State cornerback, Bryant McFadden (B-Mac), were you rooting hard for Burns to fail simply because he played his college ball at the U?
  • If you’re former Steelers and Spartans receiver, Plaxico Burress, were you happy that Devin Bush, a Michigan linebacker who Pittsburgh traded up to the 10th spot to select in the 2019 NFL Draft, quickly fizzled out and became one of the biggest busts in franchise history?

I can do this all day, but I don’t have time for any more of this pettiness based on your college allegiance.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go finish my totally objective article explaining why Russ Grimm was a much better Steelers offensive line coach than Mike Munchak.


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