April 26, 1980: Photo by Al Herman, Jr. Jan. 9, 1975: Pittsburgh Press Photo by Michael Chikiris January 10, 1983: Pittsburgh Press Photo by Robert Pavuchak Sept 8, 1980: Pittsburgh Press Photo by Lynn Johnson  Dec. 23 1972: Pittsburgh Press Photo by Michael Chikiris

1970s, 1980s —  ”Steelers Fans high on their football team”

Steelers fans always have been a colorful bunch. 

In 1980, Jerry McNeely, the executive producer of ”Fighting Back,” a made-for-TV movie about Rocky Bleier of the Steelers, admired the passion and zeal of Steelers fans saying, “These people… well, their enthusiasm is something to behold.”  

A Hollywood wardrobe department would have been hard-pressed to recreate the variety of black and gold costumes, tassel caps, scarves, jackets, T-shirts, banners, and the hand-lettered Terrible Towel, as shown in these photographs from the Post-Gazette’s archives from the ’70s and ’80s. 

They wore Franco’s Italian Army helmets, wrote ‘Steelers #1’ on their cars and organized fan clubs: Bradshaw’s Brigade, Lambert’s Lunatics, Gerela’s Gorillas and Shell’s Bombers. They were the first generation of the  Steeler Nation (the name coined in 1975 to refer to the Steelers fan base).

In January 1975, Steelers fan Pat Savage and six of his pals (second photo on the right) followed the team to New Orleans for Super Bowl IX. They didn’t have tickets. Their conveyance was a converted black and gold ‘61 Conestoga. They called themselves ‘The Savage Crew.’

"The van was a moving testament to their heroes. Insignia of helmets, hails and numbers (Bradshaw’s  No. 12 was up front) tattooed the black and gold shell. Inside were curtains, converted seats from a Corvair and Chevy pickup, bedrolls, blankets, mattresses, pretzels, chips and liquid refreshment," The Pittsburgh Press reported. 

In the article Pat Savage confessed: “I’m a fanatic and I admit it. There is no way they’ll lose on Sunday.” And they didn’t. The Steelers won their first Super Bowl defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 16-6.

And although the Steelers didn’t make it to the Super Bowl in 2013, Steelermania lives on. 

— Mila Sanina  

  1. iheartpgh reblogged this from pgdigs and added:
    Some awesome Steelers fan photos from the Post-Gazette archives
  2. bigdirkmalone reblogged this from pgdigs
  3. midcenturymodest reblogged this from pgdigs and added:
    “bandwagon” fans, then come
  4. pgdigs posted this