Minkah Fitzpatrick trade now ‘makes sense’ to many Steelers fans | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

Minkah Fitzpatrick trade now ‘makes sense’ to many Steelers fans

Tom Davidson
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Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
Some of the shirts for sale at the You’re In Steelers Country shop in the Strip District.
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick about to intercept a ball intended for the Rams’ Robert Woods on the last play of the game, Nov. 10, at Heinz Field.
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Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
Chris Kleibacker, 73, of Chino Hills, Calif., originally from Pittsburgh’s North Hills, during a visit to the Strip District on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.

Steelers fans have had more ups and downs than the Steel Curtain roller coaster that debuted this year at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin.

A day after the season seemed lost — quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out for the year — the team traded a 2020 first-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for free safety for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The move was was derided at the time. Fans thought the team should use that pick to find its quarterback of the future. But four wins later, including Sunday’s against the L.A. Rams where Fitzpatrick proved his worth, and fans are talking differently.

“Now it makes sense,” said Chris Kleibacker. “Obviously a good move by the Steelers. I won’t question it. I was wrong.”

Kleibacker grew up in the North Hills and was back in town this weekend from his home in Chino Hills, Calif. He and some family members watched the North Allegheny WPIAL playoff game Friday, the Penguins game Saturday and the Steelers on Sunday.

“I’m real impressed. I think we’ve got another Steel Curtain in the making,” Kleibacker said as he and his family were in the Strip District, browsing the shops and talking football.

Jim Coen always liked the move for Fitzpatrick, he said Monday. Coen owns Yinzers, a black-and-gold sports clothing store in the Strip.

“When you get a bona fide Pro Bowler for a draft pick, it’s a no-brainer,” Coen, 59, of Lawrenceville, said.

Like Kleibacker, he’s forecasting a return to the heyday of the 1970s when the Steel Curtain defense led the Steelers to four Super Bowls.

“I think the Steelers defense is amazing. They look hungry,” Coen said.

The defense has taken the pressure off a Ben-less offense, and it’s made him happy as a fan and business owner whose livelihood depends on Steelers fans being Steelers fans.

“Now that they’re winning more and the holidays are getting closer, people will spend more money on Steelers merchandise,” Coen said.

People have been requesting all-things Fitzpatrick, although those items are tough to find in the Strip’s shops.

“Everybody’s looking for him,” Marie Lee, who owns PGH Sports a few doors down from Coen’s shop, said.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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