We’re really just fans of the NFL!


They came from such places like Asheville, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Las Vegas, Miami and Lakeland, Florida.

Oh, and one more thing to remember, they were all born in the late 1980s.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that no one in the group came up with the answer to my question, "who was the NFL's dynasty team of the 1970s."

"They" were 17 rookies from the Pittsburgh Steelers who visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame last Friday. I gave the group a private tour of the Hall of Fame as a history lesson on the NFL.  The answer to my question of course is the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'd be willing to guess all 17 of the players know that answer and a whole lot more after their quick but thorough visit to the Hall.

In fact, first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey won a Hall of Fame hat for remembering that the first pro player was paid $500 to play in a game in 1892.

Check out a video of Pouncey doing an interview while he proudly wears his new Hall of Fame hat.

Speaking of Pouncey, I think the Steelers found a keeper in him. He seemed to really show an appreciation for the game's past during his two-hour tour. But, what struck me most was his understanding of today's game. He gets the big picture in that this game really belongs to the fans. His engagement with Hall of Fame visitors was terrific. He delighted an older Green Bay Packers fan when he took time to stop and talk with him and sign an autograph. Later, as Maurkice made his way through the Hall, he was wished a sincere "good luck" from a Browns fan.

Yes, that's correct. A Browns fan wished a Steelers player "good luck." It should be noted the fan added a little caveat that the good luck was only intended for games OTHER than against Cleveland.

The experience of witnessing grown adults' exuberant adulation of these young players reminded me of Art Shell's enshrinement speech in 1989. (By the way, the Steelers rookies were just infants or toddlers then). A crowd clad mostly in Pittsburgh's familiar black-and-gold showed up to see the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount get enshrined. They continuously broke into choruses of "Here we go Steel-ers, here we go!"

Shell and Packers' great Willie Wood also shared the stage with the Steelers greats that day. Shell followed Bradshaw and Blount to the podium and put everything into perspective. He began his speech by turning and facing the Steelers faithful and declared, "I want to thank all of you fans for coming, even you Steeler fans. You boo us, but you still love us. You don't realize it but you still love us, because you respect the way we play and how hard we play."

And, with that the Steelers fans applauded an Oakland Raider.

So, what it comes down to, despite our allegiances to our favorite teams, in the end it's really all about how much we love the National Football League.

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