Punter of the Week is a weekly series here on UKPigskin all about you, the fans.
The recent on-goings from around the globe have only proven what we all already knew – 2020 sucks.
However, when all there is is negativity, bring positivity – that’s what this feature is all about. Celebrating the fans of this game we all love.
Whether you’re a veteran supporter that knows the ins and outs or you’re only just finding your feet with the NFL, we want to hear from you!
In this latest edition, Danny Ward, a 36-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers fan from Durham, tells us how a trip to Las Vegas prompted the start of his love affair with the Black & Gold.
Who is your team and why?
I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and it is pretty much all by chance.
I was on holiday in Las Vegas one year – it was Sunday and all the croupiers in the casinos were wearing football jerseys instead of their usual shirts and bow-ties.
All the guests had their team colours on and the sports bars were humming. The atmosphere was amazing and I wanted to be part of it.
I went to ‘Dick’s Sporting Goods’ at the end of the Las Vegas Strip to buy a jersey. I had no idea what team I was going to buy but I had a few rules that the jersey had to adhere to.
Firstly, it needed to have a team badge on the chest. I mean, what else are you meant to kiss in moments of success if there is no badge?
Secondly, I needed to have heard of the team beforehand and third of all, it needed to suit what I was already wearing.
Long story short, I walked out of the shop wearing a Steelers’ home game jersey. I then watched us lose to the Vikings in a sports bar at Harrah’s casino and I was hooked.
I can’t choose, it’s too difficult a choice. Big Ben is definitely up there, he is a legend. I really like TJ Watt and what he is doing for the defence too, though.
What are your first memories of the NFL?
Like many Brits my first memories of the NFL come from the Channel 4 weekly roundup show.
I had no idea what I was watching but what kid wouldn’t want to watch teams with cool names like the Bears and the Raiders.
The NFL did randomly pop up in other corners of my childhood, though. My Gran went on holiday to America and brought me back a San Francisco 49ers mug as a gift and I also remember buying a pack of New York Jets ‘Top Trumps’ cards from the corner shop.
I’ve since lost them which is a real shame, as I would have loved to give them to genuine fan if I still had them.
Have you been able to form a relationship with other NFL fans through social media?
Twitter has been a God send for connecting with fans across the world and has given me access to a number of different communities such as Steelers fans, UK NFL fans and fantasy football lovers.
It’s crazy to think that I chat regularly with people that I might never meet, from all over the world, and all because of a connection to the NFL.
Do you feel as though your fandom for the NFL is unique to other sports?
I don’t really follow any other sports. I followed ‘soccer’ for a bit when I was a kid but it was mainly because everyone else did, so for me, my fandom of the NFL is very unique.
With a general lack of interest in other sports it’s quite surprising that my love for the Steelers has me up at 1am to watch prime-time games live.
Sure, I could watch it back on Gamepass the next day but I love being part of the live experience, including blasting out overly emotional tweets.
What do you expect from your team this coming season?
I could go conservative with this answer but, f*ck it, Ben is back and we’re going to the Superbowl.
Diontae Johnson is a stud and will improve on what was an impressive rookie season. I believe it’s a contract year for JuJu and James Conner so the offence will be balling.
On the other side of the ball, Fitzpatrick and Bush are going to break a record for pick sixes, plus Dupree and TJ Watt are going to be league leaders for sacks.
Finally… If you could add one NFL player past or present to your current franchise, who would it be and why?
Okay, I’ll go one past and one present.
For past I would like to add Jack Lambert. That guy was scary as hell. I reckon he would have the likes of Jackson, Baker and Burrow trembling in their tighty-whities.
From the present I would take George Kittle or Travis Kelce. Tight End was a question mark for the Steelers all of last season and although I’m hopeful Ebron could be the answer, I’d snap your hand off for one of the Special K’s.
Thank you once again to Danny for his contribution. Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter if you don’t already: @inbozwetrust.