No Fans = Better Play?

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

By: Jonathan Clark


Throughout the past couple of seasons in Pittsburgh, there was a lot of media attention thrown the Steelers way. While some say, “any attention is good attention,” in this case, I think it is fair to say the Steelers would have much rather preferred NO attention, then any at all.


We all know the stories of what I am talking about. The past couple of off-seasons, there was national sports media surrounding the Steelers regarding topics that were nothing more than a negative distraction to the organization and the football team itself. The issues that were at hand were issues that the Steelers had little to any control over. Whether it was Antonio Brown questioning the leadership of our future Hall Of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger (amongst other things), or the Le’Veon Bell contract situation where Bell was insisting on setting a financial market for running backs to get paid by, doing so by sitting out an entire season, disappointing his teammates/fans, only to take less money to join the New York Jets (it still doesn’t make any sense to me either). It just seemed like drama was starting to follow the Pittsburgh Steelers, something that I do not think a lot of us were used too. 


This season is different. This team is different and the atmosphere surrounding the eventual 53-man roster will be much different for many reasons other than one, but one of the ways in which the game is changing the most is the loss of fans in the stands. In my opinion, this season could be one where we see the closest Steelers roster than we have in a long time. The biggest question is, will success follow?


We all know this defense is clicking. There really isn’t too big of a hole on that side of the ball. This unit we have seems to already be getting closer and closer since the moment last season started. Devin Bush, Vince Williams, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree locking up the LB spots in the Steel City with Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt causing havoc on opposing offensive lineman. That backed up with a secondary with names like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Joe Haden and Stephen Nelson, this group turned into a real scary bunch during the 2019 season. I think it’s fair to say that we know what we are going to get in 2020 with that same group. 


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The biggest change I think we’ll see is on the offensive side of the ball. Our offensive line is top tier. 3 out of the 5 starting offensive lineman taking the field for the Steelers in 2020 are players who have been recognized as Pro Bowlers for multiple seasons, and our quarterback is bound for a HUGE comeback season following off-season surgery. I think these two positions are the heart and soul of this offense, with the respective players all having a resume to back that up. That being said, this offense is full of a bunch of guys who are still proving themselves in the league including James Conner, James Washington, Ryan Switzer or even some of the rookies that were brought in on offense this off-season. These are guys who have found some success in this league (some more than others), but are still looking to prove themselves to be more than just role players on this team. 



I think the loss of fans could be a great thing for guys that are in these types of situations. Fans have such a huge impact on the way these guys play in more ways than we probably understand. They hear us when we are yelling at them at the games, they see our reactions to the positive or negative things that each individual player does, and these guys care about what we think of them — and for good reason. SteelerNation has been blessed to be able to watch some great teams/players throughout the Steelers existence, so our expectations as far as play are extremely high. Sometimes, just knowing that as a player can take away from the actual focus at hand, which is playing the game the way that they know how. Just focusing in on the task at hand, not worrying about what fans are going to say when you miss a catch, hearing the reaction heard around the stadium when a particular player fumbles the ball, or even worrying about what each fan might have to say about your performance after the game says a lot. Fans for sure affect the mindset of these guys going out there on Sundays both positively and negatively. I’m sure if you asked any of the Steelers players, they would tell you that they want nothing more than to play in front of SteelerNation at Heinz Field this season, and they wouldn’t be lying. But there is always a positive and every negative, and having no fans could have a positive impact on the play of certain “under the radar” type guys.


During those 60 minutes, it’s just going to be this group of men with no one else present on Sundays physically, besides their coaches and teammates, their brothers, the guys who are grinding with them day in and day out. These guys really don’t have any other choice than to become closer as a football team, which ultimately means their team chemistry is going to become closer and closer by the minute which is truly how a successful team is built. There is a lot to look forward to this upcoming season, and I’m just excited to go on another journey together with all of SteelerNation!


Do you think having no fans will equal better play? Let us know what you think! Comment below!


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