Steelers Nation Unite

'Steelers Nation was out there rocking'

The narrative is a familiar one. Pittsburgh Steelers play game away from Pittsburgh. Steelers Nation turns out in droves to support their team.

However, the backstory for this past weekend had a slightly different twist, as there was no true home team for Sunday's preseason contest, and on Saturday evening, there wasn't even a game to be played.

Of course, Jerome Bettis receiving the game's greatest honor was the reason for the celebratory atmosphere this past weekend all around Steelers Nation – and especially in Canton.

With a quick look around the grounds surrounding the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the repeated roars coming from inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, a casual observer very well may have mistaken Canton, OH for the Steel City.

Prior to the start of Saturday's enshrinement ceremonies, it wasn't uncommon to hear people commenting on the scene around the stadium.

"This feels like a home game. It's like I'm walking into Heinz Field or Three Rivers," a fan wearing a Bettis jersey loudly exclaimed.

Heard coming from a group of Raiders' fans was, "Man, these Steelers fans are everywhere out here."

Sure, you could chalk up the presence of Steelers Nation to the proximity of Canton in relation to Pittsburgh. But that's only half the story. Certainly, Steelers fans from Pittsburgh travel all over to follow their team – but Steelers fans also naturally exist in practically every city in the United States, and every country around the world.

Why else would James Davoli, Sr., and his son James, III, make the trip to Canton from Dallas, TX?

"It's one of the best sites anybody can see, honestly," said James, III. "It's Steelers Nation – the one and only."

Steelers Nation Unite member Charles Richardson from Richmond, VA also made the trip and had high expectations for the weekend. Naturally, Steelers Nation came through.

"It was pretty much like a home game at Heinz Field [Saturday] night and I expected to see it again on Sunday. Steelers Nation was out there rocking like we always do," said Richardson.

Even before things got rolling inside the stadium, the hype of the weekend had fans excited for what was ahead.

"This is the most packed I've ever seen it," said Michael Beyer, a Steelers Nation Unite member from Cincinnati. "I was here for Woodson's induction, LeBeau's induction, Dermontti Dawson's induction, but this is just awesome. It's amazing."

ESPN's Chris Berman, the master of ceremonies for Saturday's enshrinement, couldn't help but make several comments in regards to the sea of Terrible Towels that filled the stadium at the mention of any Steeler.

"A Steelers home game. Who knew?" Berman said, shortly after introducing Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, and a subsequent roar drowned out the public address system.

The high point of Saturday night, unquestionably and unsurprisingly, was when Jerome Bettis took the stage as the night's eighth and final inductee, and Steelers fans the world over watched as 'The Bus' made the final stop in his widely-celebrated career.

Waving a Terrible Towel and firing up an already raucous crowd, Bettis tipped his cap to Steelers fans throughout his speech.

"To Steelers Nation," Bettis began before the screams took over and the Terrible Towels began flying. "You've got to show these guys what real football fans look like!"

Sending the crowd into a frenzy, Bettis continued his praise for Steelers Nation.

"I want to thank you all for appreciating the power running game. Three yards and a cloud of dust was far better than a 40-yard bomb down the football field," he said with a laugh.

"Thank you for embracing me and my entire family as your own," said Bettis. "But thank you, most importantly, for your support of not only me, but my entire team, as we went out and played a game that we loved and knew we had the support from the best football fans in the world."

Sunday night, the buzz continued to surround Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, as the 2015 preseason officially got underway between the Steelers and Minnesota Vikings. In a game that featured a mixture of established veterans and relative unknowns, the game ended in a 14-3 win for the Vikings.

That didn't detract, however, from the fact the Steelers Nation made yet another venue outside of Allegheny County feel like home.

David DeGeorge, a Pittsburgh native who now resides in Maryland, summed it up best when talking about the camaraderie Steelers fans feel every time they are together.

"There's no strangers," said DeGeorge. "Just Steelers fans you haven't met yet."

Steelers fans everywhere can get recognized for this type of dedication by joining Steelers Nation Unite for free right now. Visit http://www.steelersnationunite.com/ and simply enter an email address and create a password to sign up. Steelers Nation Unite recognizes and rewards fans for their loyalty and dedication to their team year-round, and is the official way to get recognized as a member of Steelers Nation.

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