The 2018 Steelers throwback jersey choice to revive the 1978-1978 jersey with block numbers has electrified Steelers Nation. After all, who could argue?
Those two championships don’t simply mark milestones in franchise accomplishment, they represent milestones in football excellence.
The 1978 Steelers win over the Dallas Cowboys made Pittsburgh the first team to win three Super Bowls, and gave the Black and Gold its SECOND win over a fellow multiple Super Bowl winner. Victory in Super Bowl XIV over the Los Angeles Rams made the Steelers the first team to win four Super Bowls and the only team to win four Championships in six years.
- It took ten years for another franchise to tie the Steelers 4 Super Bowl mark, and no one, not even the Patriots have matched Pittsburgh’s record of winning four Super Bowls in 6 years.
The Steelers changed the block numbering after the 1996 season much to the chagrin of some fans. Honestly, I’m old enough to remember Jerome Bettis and Kordell Stewart modeling the rounded number jerseys and thinking, “That just doesn’t look right.” Some fans still argue that the franchise has never been the same since.
- Me? By the time the Steelers won Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII yours truly thought those numbers looked just fine.
Still, conjuring images of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward decked out in block letters just as Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Joe Greene, and Jack Lambert did before them is the perfect recipe for raising the hair on the back of your neck just a little.
And yet, the Steelers 2018 throwback jersey choice efficiently serves another, if less pleasant, purpose….
Why 2018 Steelers Throwback Jersey Choice is Bittersweet for Generation X
…The Steelers 2018 throwback uniforms are also the perfect remedy for making us Generation Xer’s feel old. Yep. If you’re a Fortysomething Steelers fan admit it, when you saw the announcement about going back to block letters, you probably thought, “Gee, that’s not much of a throwback.”
- Well, yeah, it’s been 20 years since the Steelers last wore the block jerseys.
IT can really be that long can it, you demand? Yes, it can. The last time Pittsburgh wore the block jerseys was Fog Bowl II, the 1996 playoff loss to the Patriots, which was Rod Woodson’s final game as a Steeler.
Fans from Generation X have earned a special niche in Steelers history.
Our first memories of the Black and Gold are wrapped in Super Bowl glory. The Immaculate Reception was established history by the time we were able to fully grasp its spectacular nature. Those of us growing up outside of Pittsburgh enjoyed our grandparents sending down Steelers t-shirts, jackets, hats and gloves which drew envy from everyone else on the playground, because we were the champions!
- Be honest fellow fortysomething fans. Raise your hand if as a kid you really thought that the Steelers had inspired Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”
Our parents had to explain to us, and it took a long time for us believe them, that the Steelers had been terrible when they were our age. Then, just as we were taking the Steelers excellence for granted, the 1980’s arrived, and with it came mediocrity.
Yet we remained faithful. Always feeling, often times feelings fueled by little more than naiveté, that Chuck Noll’s really wasn’t that far from making the Steel Curtain Rise again. The 1987 tease at a playoff run and late season surges in 1986 and even in 1988 seem to legitimatize our optimism.
- And of course the 1989 Steelers improbable playoff run steeled our passion for the Black and Gold in a way that fans from both earlier and later generations struggle to understand.
Of course the 9-7 and 7-9 finishes of the 1990 and 1991 Steelers amounted bit of a buzz kill, yet Bill Cowher’s 1992 return to Pittsburgh awoke the sleeping giant we now call Steelers Nation. Steelers fans from Generation X had expected One for the Thumb to come before we got out of elementary school. Now Cowher Power promised to deliver in the 1990’s. Yet, after teasing in Super Bowl XXX (thanks Neil), it came up short.
- Instead, we had to wait until our 30’s for Lombardi’s 5 and 6 to arrive in Pittsburgh.
And now, with the window closing on bringing home Lombardi Number Seven during the Roethlisberger era, we now hope that a return, albeit for one game, to the block letters, will be the talisman the turns the trick.