By Tyler Sweet

Every Sunday, NFL fans go about their own specific rituals and ruitines to prepare themselves for the afternoon excitement of professional football. Sports bars, restaurants, and gathering areas following a Sunday church service all become destinations of football gossip.

There is just something about football season that tends to make our individual differences transparent and bring us all together to experience the highs and lows of one of the greatest games in the world.

Growing up in western Pennsylvania, I embraced the Steelers at a young age, cheering for the mediocre teams of the mid-90’s. I quickly realized that there was something more to being a Steeler fan than sitting in front of the television hoping and praying for a win.

Being a Steeler fan gave me, even at a young age, a sense of belonging. I loved hearing the rowdy fans at Three Rivers Stadium during pregame introductions.

It was on a typical gameday in September that I can specifically remember the first time I heard the term ‘Steeler Nation’. I was listening to Myron Cope on the radio while watching the game on our muted TV.

It gave me chills then, and it gives me chills now to see and hear the thousands of passionate fans on Sundays waving the Terrible Towel with pride and to know that we are all united as a single unit ready to back our team no matter what.

With Steelers bars in most major cities around the country, and the large gatherings of Steeler fans at every away game, it has been well documented that the Steelers have one of, it not the largest fan bases in all of sports. Whether your on vacation in Florida, California, or even in another country, Steelers logos are easy to find.

The true world-wide spread of Steeler Nation will be solidified when the Steelers visit Wembley Stadium in London in a week 4 regular season matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. As they do at every other away game, Steelers fans will flock London in large numbers and once again provide an atmosphere worthy of the great Steeler tradition.

There will be ups and downs, like every season. But it is important to realize that regardless of whether the Steelers are 0-16 or 16-0 come January, we are the best damn fan base in the NFL and we stand by our franchise and players as if they were part of our very own family.

Although playoff berths or Lombardi trophies aren’t handed out in the preseason, it is our first chance to welcome back our veterans and welcome all the new players and coaches to the family.

So this weekend at Heinz field as the music plays and the team makes its way down the hallway, make sure the boys know that waiting at the end of the tunnel for the first time of the 2013 season, will be the Steeler Nation risen as one.

Preseason, regular season, or playoffs, cheering for the Steelers gives us that special pride. The Pride of the Steeler Nation!

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