Steeler loyalties put to test for Jets families
Tiffanie McCullough usually roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not this week.
On Sunday, the Wilkins woman will wear green and white and scream her head off for the New York Jets.
Who can blame her• Her younger brother, Jason Taylor, who played football at Woodland Hills High, is a starting linebacker for the Jets.
"I am a Jason Taylor fan," said McCullough, 38. "I want the Steelers to win when they're not playing him. We have some family members who are big-time Steelers fans, but when it comes to my brother playing the Steelers, we show up at the games to support him."
Loyalties are straining across the region this week with the approaching AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field. Fans from Aliquippa to Deep Creek, Md., are forced to choose between a hometown favorite and loved ones playing for the opposition.
For the most part, the Jets are winning.
Not with Frank Namath, 73, of Chippewa, brother of famed Jets quarterback Joe Namath, the Beaver Falls native who led the team to its only Super Bowl win in 1969. Frank Namath said he's a Steelers fan through and through.
"The only way I would be rooting for the Jets is if Joe suits up," Namath said. "My wife called him this week and told him the same thing. Joe can still move the ball, but at 67, I don't think he'd be much of a threat."
Football runs in Aileen Gilbert's family.
Her son, Sean Gilbert, played 10 years for four different NFL teams. Her grandson is Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Aliquippa High School graduate playing in his second consecutive AFC title game. Gilbert said she never liked the Steelers.
"My personal feeling is the Steelers fans are a little bit over the top," she said. "I know people who will be wanting the Jets to lose, but Darrelle knows people support him, and that's all that counts."
One of his biggest supporters is Aliquippa Quips Coach Mike Zmijanac. Zmijanac might consider his former player a friend, but he's still pulling for a Steelers win.
"I'm rooting for the Steelers and hope Darrelle has four interceptions and 23 tackles," Zmijanac said.
In Wilkins, the game is splitting the Taylor family. Georgia Taylor, 57, said her sisters are fervent Steelers fans, but this game is different with her son playing.
"They still support him," Taylor said. "I think, right now, they're really excited about the fact that he has gone as far as he has. I'm sure they will hate to see the Steelers lose on Sunday, but it won't be like the Steelers losing to Baltimore. It will be the Steelers losing to their nephew."
Georgia Taylor's youngest son, Noah, 21, who plays football at California University of Pennsylvania, was stuck in the middle during the Jets' divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots two weeks ago. Rob Gronkowski, a Woodland Hills graduate and one of Noah Taylor's best friends, plays tight end for the Patriots.
Noah Taylor said his brother Jason and Gronkowski kept texting him with trash talk about the other. Noah Taylor went to the New England game with another Jets fan.
"He's sitting there yelling at me because I'm sitting there cheering for Jason and I'm cheering for Rob," he said.
Jim Sweeney, 48, of Deep Creek, Md., played 16 years in the NFL, the first 11 with the Jets. But he played his last four years as a Steelers offensive lineman.
Sweeney, who grew up in Beechview, said his childhood idols were Steelers. He wouldn't offer a prediction for Sunday's game, but said it would be good for him no matter the outcome.
"I'd be happy if the Jets make it, but I'll also be happy if the Steelers make it," he said.
Darryl Revis, 44, of Aliquippa said his son idolized the Steelers while growing up. Darrelle always imagined himself playing in Pittsburgh, and fingers were crossed in Aliquippa four years ago with hopes the Steelers would draft him out of the University of Pittsburgh.
His dad foresees a Jets win on Sunday.
"My prediction is the Jets by 7," he said. "But it's going to be a tight game. It's just amazing to have a son on that level. He's an awesome kid."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Steelers notebook: No-huddle gets limited use vs. Texans
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Steelers’ Pouncey, brother won’t be charged in July fracas
- Steelers film session: Watt kept under control
- Steelers lookahead: Colts QB Luck becoming one of NFL’s elite
- Steelers’ defense rebounds after shaky 1st quarter, forces Texans into mistakes
- Snapshot in time: Comparing Cowher, Tomlin drafts
- Steelers dial up 2-point play for Brown’s TD toss
- Steelers use 3 late first-half TDs to stun Texans