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Why are Steelers fans so obsessed with block numbers?

The Steelers announced on Monday night that there would be a special announcement on Tuesday at 3 p.m. (EST).

We all sat around for half a day or so and speculated on what the announcement could possibly be…like the good little addicts that we are.

Was it going to be a trade? (Yes, I know the trade deadline had already come and gone, but still, was it going to be a trade?) Were they going to extend Mike Tomlin’s contract? (That would have led to a highly-entertaining reaction.) Were they going to extend Matt Canada’s contract? (The reaction to that would have been so lovely, I would have asked it to marry me.) Were they going to sign Martavis Bryant? Were they going to retire another player’s number?

Turns out, the jersey number thing was pretty close. But instead of retiring the number of a fourth legend (for the record, I think they should retire Rod Woodson’s No. 26 because he was just so damn good), the Steelers will don their block numbers when they battle Green Bay this Sunday afternoon at Acrisure Stadium.

Hooray! Let’s all rejoice! By wearing the block-style numbers, the Steelers will celebrate 1970s legends such as Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene. Believe it or not, they will also celebrate 1980s legends like Mike Merriweather and Bryan Hinkle. It will also be an ode to 1990s legends like Levon Kirkland and Neil O’Donnell.

That’s right, the Steelers were still wearing their block numbers through the 1996 season, so I don’t know what this whole “Ode to the ’70s” hoopla is all about. Will Sunday’s uniforms be an exact replica of the ones the Steelers wore in the 1970s? Maybe, but how will you be able to tell them apart from the ones they wore in Super Bowl XXX following the 1995 campaign?

Seriously, what is it with you and these block numbers? I know what you’re going to say, “Those numbers represent a time when the Steelers were great, Tony!” You do know they played in three Super Bowls and won two of them while wearing the round numbers, right? Troy Polamalu wore that style his entire career. Ben Roethlisberger did, too. So did Hines Ward. Jerome “The Bus” Bettis only wore the block numbers for one season (1996), and he donned the other style for the last nine years of his career in Pittsburgh.

OK, maybe I’m being rude by mocking the block numbers, but if they mean so much to the fans, why don’t the Steelers just bring them back permanently? Seriously, what the hell is the difference? Who is even going to notice after about five minutes? It’s not like the block numbers would be a radical change on par with those weird “Golden Triangle” uniforms of the late-’60s.

They certainly wouldn’t be as drastic a change as, say, switching permanently to those bumblebee uniforms. I’d like to see the Steelers switch their home uniforms to all-white with black and gold trim just so I can enjoy a few years of social media outrage, but that’s certainly not going to happen.

So, again, why not just switch to the block numbers permanently?

I know why. It’s because they want to keep us addicted to the annual reveal.

Look at you. You’re hooked on some number from the ’70s (and ’80s and ’90s), man!

Enjoy those block numbers on Sunday. You’ll have to wait at least another year to see them again.

Finally, I can’t wait for the Steelers to permanently switch to the block numbers so I can begin to yearn for the round numbers of the ’00s.


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