Ex-player's book details Steeler havens across country
Josh Miller insisted the idea to write a book about Steelers bars across the country started with a casual conversation in neighbor Shawn Allen's basement.
“All the fun things you do are usually by accident,” Miller said.
Miller and Allen had plenty of fun logging more than 33,000 miles to visit 100 Steelers bars, and their adventures are chronicled in the soon-to-be-released book “Always a Home Game: Our Journey Through Steelers Country in 140 Days.”
Speaking Thursday night at Rivers Casino alongside Allen at a VIP-only event to promote the book, the former Steelers punter said he arranged a meeting with the Rooney family to pitch the idea — with little confidence.
“We thought we were going to get turned down,” Miller said.
Only they didn't. Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II loved it and gave Miller and Allen their blessing. The result is 240 pages of the duo's hijinx, some of which was viewable during Jumbotron spots a few minutes prior to kickoff at Steelers home games last season.
“We're going to get to share all the experiences they had,” said Sherry Sainovich-Slem, 50, of Beaver Falls, who with husband Butch waved Terrible Towels on Thursday that Miller and Allen signed. “I think it's something every Steelers fan should have.”
After all, who wouldn't want to spend every weekend from early August through the end of the year on the road in a 32-foot RV?
Not so fast, Miller cautioned.
“You eat. You're hanging out. You laugh. You hear the greatest stories,” Miller said. “Then you say, ‘Oh (darn), it's 8 o'clock, and I have to be on-air the next day.'
“So you're driving back from Chicago overnight, taking three-hour shifts.”
Family support also was huge. Neither realized the breadth of the project. To cover the 31 other NFL markets, some trips ran as long as six days. But for a pair of first-time writers, they're pleased with how the book came out.
“The experience was phenomenal,” Allen said. “But you try and document it, and it's almost like words can't describe what it's like. There's this overwhelming sense of emotion everywhere we went.”
Sonny Tedesco, 58, of Ohio Township preordered a copy for his 78-year-old stepfather.
“He'll cherish that for the rest of his years,” Tedesco said.
Bars were chosen to align with the Steelers' 2013 schedule and voted on at the group's website and Facebook page.
They went into each bar with a checklist of information to glean: connection to Pittsburgh, what's on tap, food, the local scene, the story of the place and a biography of the owner.
Allen said the first draft clocked in at 400 pages but had to be cut. Blame Harold's Corral in Arizona, a Steelers bar where Miller winds up riding a horse for the first time and texting Allen from across the bar to save him.
The pair handed out 100 certificates from the Rooney family, verifying each place as an official Steelers bar, and collected T-shirts from all their stops that they had sewn into six quilts.
Most of all, the trip certified what Miller and Allen knew all along: Steelers fans turn out in droves to support their team.
“You can't do this for any other team,” Miller said. “If you're in Jacksonville, good luck.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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