Renegade Haters Haven't Been to a Steeler Home Game Lately

(SN/Getty/Styx)


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I was sitting in the nose bleeds in section 534 at Heinz Field on Sunday.  My legs ached from the seemingly thousands of stairs we had to climb to reach row JJ, as we settled back in for the 2nd half.  However, the tickets were free, and my wife and I were happy to have a reason to spend a Sunday Funday downtown.  It was also our first Steeler game attended this season.  We were grateful. 

However, the thousands of empty seats and little buzz among the Steeler faithful in the first half was like nothing I had seen before.  I am not a regular Steeler game attendee, but my brother used to work in the ticket office so I have been to my fair share.  The stadium did not feel as rabid and hostile as year’s past.

I’m not blaming the fans.  This has been a tough season.  Injuries and holes in the offensive line have led to bad football at times for the Steelers.  When the team is performing at this level, it is hard to get up for every 3rd down play.  Also, the Steelers gave the home crowd very little to cheer for in the first half, but it was noticeable, to me at least.

This feeling continued into the 4th quarter.  The crowd did begin to pick up steam as the Steelers tied it and created another turnover.  They then took the lead on yet another Chris Boswell field goal. 

However, even with the lead, the Steelers scoring just nine points off of three turnovers by the Titans to that point, left the crowd a little disgruntled.  It still didn’t feel like the Heinz Field Steeler crowd I had been a part of so many times before.

Then everything changed.  The picture on the scoreboard dimmed to black.  The buzz missing from the crowd for 3+ quarters was suddenly found and everyone in the stadium stood up.  It was time for Renegade.  As Steelers’ defensive highlights played behind the Styx hit, and Terrible Towels waved at full strength, the stadium was back to the recognizable volume every home game had for so many successful seasons prior. 

Throughout the first three quarters, every positive Tennessee Titan play seemed to suck the air out of the crowd.  However, after Renegade, even after the Titans opened the drive with an 11-yard first down, the noise never died.  It led to another fumble by the Titans the next play, and another field goal for Boswell, extending the lead to six.  If I’m remembering correctly, we didn’t sit down again after Renegade until we returned to our vehicle after the game.  It was truly transformative.

I’m not gonna lie.  I was on the side of potentially phasing out Renegade for the Steelers and Sweet Caroline for Pitt Football games.  They’ve become so overplayed in this town and I could see those sides of the arguments.  Social media is filled with those who would like to see both ended as Pittsburgh football traditions.  However, I have now had back-to-back experiences that have totally changed my mind.

Despite a neutral-site game, Bank of America stadium played Sweet Caroline before the 4th quarter of the ACC Championship.  The Pitt side of the stadium was absolutely rocking at that point and it was one of the louder renditions I had heard in years.  Then my experience with Renegade at Heinz on Sunday has now led me to believe that these traditions should stay.

I am of the belief that, among any sport, home field advantage is the most important in football.  The home crowd can actually impact the opposing offense and their signal calling.  Renegade continues to give Steeler fans that extra shot of energy they need in the 4th quarter when the IC Lights from the Gold Lot are starting to wear off.  So instead of extending last call in the stadium and risking fan safety, Renegade gets that job done.  It is a tradition that shall never die.

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