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Steelers fans don't conduct themselves by the code

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Monday, Nov. 24, 2008

Went to the Steelers game the other night. First one as a fan in probably 15 years. Maybe 20.

It wasn't quite what I remember.

Times have changed. But not necessarily for the better.

Let's just say the NFL's fan code of conduct isn't having much effect.

At least not in Pittsburgh. Not Thursday night.

Don't get me wrong -- I had fun.

I fell into a deep freeze along with the other 60,000 Black-and-Gold crazies that filled Heinz Field.

Marveled at the beauty of the swirling snow in the night sky.

Wished I hadn't forgotten my gloves.

Or split nachos with the wife. I don't remember heartburn accompanying the jalapeno-flavored cheese sauce and footlong Kosher hot dog when I was a kid going to Three Rivers Stadium with my dad in the 1980s and '90s.

Then again, I didn't wash them down back then with a large, frothy Coors Light -- I only later learned that vendors sell Yuengling.

But I also don't remember the obsessive swearing, badgering to "have another" and heckling of those leaving early.

This from fellow Steelers followers.

Don't even ask what they did to the poor soul who dared to wear a Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Johnson -- Ocho Cinco -- jersey and who, in good nature, signaled first down the few times his team managed to move the ball.

Let's just say it didn't take long for those in my section to pick up on a clever hand-held sign that read "Where's Ocho Stinko?"

Which would have been fine had they eventually left it alone, say, after the 50th time of screaming "O-cho, Stin-ko!" along with other choice phrases.

It got so bad, the dude got up and left.

And to think my lovely bride, born in Brooklyn and ever the die-hard New York Giants fan who wears an Eli Manning jersey every Sunday, wanted to scalp tickets to the Steelers-Giants game earlier this year.


I'll eventually return to Heinz Field. Continue to cheer on Fast Willie and Hines Ward and James Harrison.

I'd even like to take my kids.

But unlike some parents I saw with theirs, I can't imagine doing so anytime soon.

The Steelers and the league can tout their fan policy -- and phone number fans are supposed to call or text if they're bothered by unruly fans.

But let's not kid ourselves that it's having any serious impact on behavior.

It wasn't from where I was sitting.

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