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It’s OK for Steelers fans to be excited about Russell Wilson

I was a die-hard Steelers fan for three decades before becoming a writer in 2010.

I managed to enjoy the team quite a bit without worrying all that much about free agents and the salary cap. For example, I remember watching the news one day in 2001 and seeing that Pittsburgh had signed Jeff Hartings as its new starting center. I thought, “Well, Dermontti Dawson just retired. They need a new center. Cool.” I had similar thoughts about the inside linebacker spot when Pittsburgh inked James Farrior to a new deal the following offseason. I didn’t freak out about either move in a positive or negative sense. I didn’t worry about salary cap implications. I didn’t head to Lycos to find a list of remaining free agents. I didn’t wonder why the Steelers neglected to sign this other guy who played the same position. I wasn’t concerned about other holes Pittsburgh still had to fill. I didn’t have endless debates with my friends and/or family over the Steelers’ free-agent activity. It was a lot easier being a Steelers fan in those days. I didn’t worry about having respect relative to other Steelers fans. I didn’t have people calling me an idiot for not knowing about Cover 2 and 11 Personnel packages. I thought I was a pretty big fan. I knew the rules. I knew the history. I knew the players. I knew who was good. I knew who was bad.

And then social media came along…

Now, I have to have opinions on punters. How will the Steelers handle their depth at safety? What about the gunner? Who will be the gunner? Will they bring back Gunner to return punts? Are they paying Chris Boswell too much money? I have conversations with people who say things like, “He’s not a force multiplier!” And I’m like, “I’ll take your word for it.” There’s a whole other level to being a Steelers fan that I never knew existed. I was getting by on natural affinity for years, while others were studying film six hours a day.

But I’d like to think there are a lot more people like me than there are like them–those Steelers fans who know about force multipliers–and we can appreciate the magnitude of signing a big-name quarterback like Russell Wilson.

It’s huge! I mean, I don’t know if it’s huge, but it sure feels that way. You want to get out there and celebrate. The Steelers have made a big move at the most important position in all of team sports.

Most fans aren’t going to jump on the phone and call their siblings at 11:45 p.m. when news breaks that Pittsburgh just landed a guard in free agency (even if it’s Isaac Seumalo). But they’ll do that when word leaks that the Steelers just signed Russell Wilson (I know because my idiot brother scared the hell out of me on Sunday night).

As good as a guard is, he’s not going to transform the fortunes of a football franchise. A quarterback, on the other hand? It can change everything–or at least that’s what fans would like to believe. And that’s especially the case when it’s someone like Wilson.

Seriously, just when you thought your favorite football team would have to head to the back of the quarterback line for many years, it does this.

If you’re a Steelers fan who remembers what the mid-’80s were like shortly after Terry Bradshaw retired, imagine if, instead of running it back with David Woodley and Mark Malone for another season, the organization had decided to go out and acquire Danny White, Ron Jaworski or Joe Theismann (in a mythical world where Lawrence Taylor didn’t snap his leg in half, of course). Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison when it comes to a player of Wilson’s abilities, but those guys were legit veteran quarterbacks who had accomplished some things in the NFL by that point.

It would have been a huge story. It would have given the Steelers legitimacy in the AFC. Realistically or not, Pittsburgh would have been seen as a true playoff contender heading into the regular season.

That’s why so many Steelers fans are excited about Wilson coming to town. Obviously, White, Jaworski and Theismann didn’t make much of an impact in the NFL after the mid-’80s, and the same might ultimately be true for Wilson in the 2020s.

But wouldn’t it be something if Russell Wilson was a force multiplier who put the Steelers over the top in 2024?

Seventh Heaven, baby! Let’s f’***ng go!


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