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History

Fan's Greatest Three Rivers Memories

With the last game in Three Rivers Stadium rapidly approaching, Steelers.com asked fans to contribute their favorite memory from the long-time field. The following is a selection of fan's letters.

Although I was born in Mt. Lebanon and lived there until 1977, I only visited Three Rivers once, and it wasn't for a Steelers game.

It was on a first grade field trip in 1971! The stadium was brand new, and we went on a tour from top to bottom. I remember it vividly - the state of the art stadium, so big and impressive.

-- Paul Sheply

Just the electrifying atmosphere.

-- Adam Maust

My favorite memory was when I was about the ages of 16-21 years old. My uncle, a cop in Sharpsburg, would come pick me up every Sunday morning in the 70's and we would go down to the stadium. Everyone was tailgating no matter what the temperature. Of course then we went to se how bad the Steelers would beat the opponent who ever they were. We would park at the Clark Bar Factory then walk across the lots to the stadium where we would go to this door.

My uncle would knock and two Pittsburgh Policemen would open it and would let us in for free (this was every Sunday in the 70's). We would then go down to the field area where a friend of my uncle's (another cop) held the first down marker for the Steeler home games. He would give us passes and we would jump the gate and stand on the Steelers sideline at the end of the team area. I remember seeing Mean Joe and Lambert come off the field yelling and getting everybody pumped up and Swan and Stallworth standing on the bench with the towels waving.

And you could hear what they were saying about the other team and what they were going to do about it. It was so exciting. I must have been on a dozen NFL Steeler Highlights back then I have a few taped. I met and shook hands with Noll and Franco right there they were nice people to do that I will never forget those days being part of it and yet getting in for free and having the greatest seats in the house. I must have a dozen or so chin straps from various players. I also received many autographs, which I still have and treasure. Three Rivers will always be in my thoughts.

-- Alfred Digregory


Monday Night Football, October 26, 1981, vs. Houston Oilers. It was my first game on the field taking pictures for the Steelers, I was assisting Steeler team photographer, Harry Homa. I remember it well, it was raining and I was soaked because I didn't have any rain gear on. I was knocked over and my 400 mm lens snapped off my Nikon FM2 camera. Picture that, soaked, camera broke, and I knew this is what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

-- Mike Fabus Team Photographer
Pittsburgh Steelers


It was the late 1980's and i had traded Penguins tickets i had won through the Post Gazette because i had picked the most teams correctly in football. The Penguins were hotter than a pistol and a local bar-owner offered any game on the schedule. It snowed so bad that day, and it was so cold my ex-wife spent three quarters in the warmth of the bathroom. i never moved out of my seat "covered" in snow. Pittsburgh lost that day and I had one too many to drive. I never forgot that game because Ihad spent the previous seven years in Florida and the two things Imissed were my family and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I will miss Three Rivers Stadium, but you cant erase a memory from a man's min...or his heart.

-- Bobby Nee Hollywood, Florida

Here's one about the Three Rivers Stadium, from the fans that never knew it.

I'm 29 years old now. But I remember very well 1979, when one Sunday in my country Mexico, where we follow the NFL very close, I decided to understand football - soccer is still the most popular sports in the country - , so I turned on the TV and -beginner's luck- got Super Bowl XIII. And there was only one clear and easy thing for a kid: the black guys were doing the things better than the blue star ones! Of course, I decided to follow that weird-one-sided-helmet-logo team and I asked my father the next Sunday after the game: -Hey Dad, at what time is the Super Bowl? Then I knew I had to wait longer to see it again. The years passed and, with the Super Bowl far from reality, the must exciting thing about the weekend was put on our jerseys, flags and cups and join our friends every Steelers game at the Three Rivers Stadium. Those men in black really saved many sad Sundays and made us talk for hours every Monday at college and university. Many times a game there was more important than Super Bowl.

Since 1988, I've work on graphic design.My partner, a Steeler too, made a promise with me a few years after.Before the century has finished, we should get into a playoff Steelers game at the Three Rivers Stadium. And we had the time but not the money or vice versa. Or our Steelers didn't make it making shorter our chances...

Three years ago our work moved us to Argentina, the country where the TV football transmissions starts at 1:00 AM!

So, we realize now our promise is going to stay there forever. I never saw Elvis on tour. But I'm lucky Steelers are alive.

Good Luck! We'll be in front of the TV this last game.

-- Daniel Gómez

Having moved to Pittsburgh shortly after my birth in 1968, family legend has it that one of my first words was "stadium."

-- Jay Julian

I grew up in the Western Pa area (North Apollo, 45 minutes East of "the Burgh"). I now live in Wisconsin, some 30 minutes from Lambeau, but have never given up my roots as a Steelers fan. I make the trek home every other year for the Christmas holidays. Well, last year ('99) I wanted to say goodbye to Three Rivers since it is the only stadium I've known (we were both born the same year, 1970).

I told my parents the only thing I wanted for Christmas was tickets to the Dec. 26th game against Carolina. I want to say goodbye to an old and dear friend.

Well I got them and let me tell you I was looking forward to the trip for 3 months. About the same time I was informed my sister (now living in N. Carolina) was also going to be home and I would finally get to meet my new brother-in-law. He is born and raised in Carolina and also a Cowboy's fan (yes he has heard of the glory years against them in the '70s).

Well I got them and let me tell you I was looking forward to the trip for 3 months. About the same time I was informed my sister (now living in N. Carolina) was also going to be home and I would finally get to meet my new brother-in-law. He is born and raised in Carolina and also a Cowboy's fan (yes he has heard of the glory years against them in the '70s).

Well, I chose him to go with to that Dec. 26th, 1999 game. It was his first ever (he complained that he drove 9 hours to see a team less than an hour away), but I reminded him of the history of Three Rivers and the NFL he was about to experience (Immaculate reception, 4 Super Bowls, etc.).

We drove down early and tailgated, a wonderful thing in the 27-degree weather we were having that day. Drinks and food from others parked around us made the experience for Paul and I great thing. I was reliving my childhood and his first time at a pro game.

We made our way inside and the look on our faces must have been that of two little boys seeing the spectacle of Three Rivers in different lights.

As the game wore on I got to know my new brother-in-law, and although he is a Cowboy's fan, that day we were Steelers.

The snow falling after half time, the crowd and the spectacle that is Three Rivers gave me a memory I will never forget. Four rolls of film were gone through that snowy, butt-kicking day. The "Bus" reached 1000 yards and the Steelers won a great one.

I have those pictures today sitting on my office desk, not to remind me of my last game at Three Rivers, but to remind me of the game I shared with my new brother-in-law.

I'm now an Uncle thanks to Brandee and Paul, Trinity is a beautiful little girl and if I get my way, she will know of the Steeler Traditions and the memory that is Three Rivers.

-- Dave Grumbling


I haven't lived in the burg for about eight years now, so I don't have the opportunity to get to many Pittsburgh sporting events as I would like. So my best memory would have to be one weekend a couple of years ago my family and I were in town visiting family, we took a ride downtown to Three Rivers so the boys could see the stadium.

Of course there was nothing going on so I took the boys inside the Steeler office to see the four Super Bowl Trophies. The look on their faces was the best. Then we took a little walk around the grounds and looked at all of the memorials and gave them a small run down of the greatness of the people and what they all stood for. I know you were looking for a great sports play or game. Me and my boys sat on Mr. Rooney's lap looking at the stadium and one of them said to me, "Hey dad, I feel something that I don't know what it is." I told him, "It's the BURGH. It's the GREATNESS of the stadium and you will never feel that any place else."

-- Fourwood210


My favorite memory of Three Rivers Stadium will be on December 16th, 2000. I was born in Pittsburgh and have been a life long Steelers fan. When I was young we moved from Pittsburgh after the steel mills shut down and my father was forced to find work elsewhere. I grew up listening to him tell stories of Bradshaw, Swann, and Stallworth. I for many years followed the Steelers on TV but living in Rhode Island and Florida I never was able to attend a game at Three Rivers Stadium.

I live in Florida now and I have seen the Steelers play on the road. Steelers fans are abundant at games on the road. The atmosphere of being at stadiums such as Alltel, Raymond James, and Joe Robbie are exciting as me and my fellow Steelers fans, although outnumbered, cheer on are beloved visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. I was telling my father stories of the Pittsburgh games I have seen in Florida over this past Thanksgiving holiday.

My father explained to me that there is nothing that comes close to being at Three Rivers Stadium for a Pittsburgh Steelers game. We talked some more and he has convinced me that I need to be at a Steelers game at Three Rivers Stadium while I have the chance.

There is little time left to see games and compare stories about the famed stadium. I made rush plans and arrangements to be in Pittsburgh for the final home game at Three Rivers Stadium on December 16th 2000. I contact relatives and friends for arrangements. Tickets are hard to come by with everyone wanting to relive their memories of Three Rivers Stadium. I purchased my airline flight and although I don't have tickets to the game, I can only dream that I am going to make my favorite memory of Three Rivers Stadium of how I made rush plans and somehow was able to get a ticket at witness the last game at Three Rivers. One day, when I have children, I can pass down my favorite memory of being at Three Rivers Stadium.

-- David Howard Jacksonville, Fla


I have been a fan all my life. The day I went to my first game was the first visit of Jacksonville to Three Rivers. My tickets came from a friend who lives in the suburbs. The feeling that day was the same as being a child going downstairs Christmas morning.

We walked into the stadium and my head started to get dizzy. We started to walk towards our seats and I could just see parts of the field. The anticipation was too much, so I told my friend "I have to get up that ramp to see the field!" When I reached the end of the tunnel, not having any idea where I was at, it was pure beauty. I was in the upper deck at exactly the 50-yard line, and that was my very first intro to the greatest place on earth.

-- Tim Samuels


It was a cold clear January morning in 1984 when I saw and experienced Three Rivers for the first time. I was on a three-month holiday traveling across the US and a visit to the home of the legendary Steelers was mandatory.

As I hit the faint sunlight from the tunnel, the memories of the newsreels came back: the Immaculate Reception, the Steel Curtain, the back-to-back domination. These memories were vivid because at home in Adelaide, Australia the NFL was a once a year thing - the Super Bowl - and even then only 30-seconds coverage on late night news. From these limited early offerings has come an attachment to the Steelers that continues to this day.

But on that day in January I fulfilled a dream.

After a couple of minutes just coming to grips with the stadium, touching the surprisingly soft turf and walking the sideline where the heroes once stood, I thought, "What the hell, if I don't do it now I never will". So I stepped up to the 40 yard line, placed the ball that I had brought with me across the Pacific Ocean on a matchbox, marked out my run-up, ran in and belted the ball as far as I could. As I looked up there it was flying through the uprights - not by much mind you - but enough for the three points. I started jumping up and down in celebration - and in the process stepping on and breaking all the matches that had flown everywhere on the kicking impact.

As I walked off the field with the ball under my arm, a couple of wet matches and a memory that will never fade, I couldn't help but hope that the stadium would stand forever, for my sake if no one else's. Unfortunately, life's not like that anymore. Farewell Three Rivers. Thanks for letting an Aussie fan fulfill a dream.

-- Louis Mourtzios Adelaide, Australia


My wife entered my name in the Fantastic Field Goal contest a few years back. Wouldn't you know, they pulled my name from the hat. I practiced with the kicker at the local college and wasn't doing to bad. When it came time to kick they took myself and two other guys out on the field.

Greg Lloyd was injured at the time and he came limping across the field on crutches. I fell down on my knees and did the "I'm not worthy" thing with my arms out in front of me. He got the biggest smile on his face that I've ever seen on him! I got up and he shook my hand (ouch) and I asked him how his knee was. He said, "It's OK." Needless to say I sucked at kicking field goals (I made two) and ripped my quad muscle but it was the best time I ever had at Three Rivers Stadium.

-- Rick McConnell


I was ten years old and my uncle was working laying turf at the "new" Three Rivers Stadium.

It looked so huge, like a great cathedral. I snapped a picture of the scoreboard.

Every time I watch a home game I remember that day!

-- River Wilds

I am not sure what year it was. I think it was around '93 or '94. The Steelers were playing the Saints and Rod Woodson had two interceptions in the first half. The Steelers defense scored two touchdowns in the first half.

It was a packed house and the Pittsburgh crowd was enjoying the awesome display of defensive power that our team put forth. As the first half ended, the teams retreated to the locker room with over 50,000 screaming fans chanting "DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE."

I have attended many games over many years. I have seen blowouts, close games, rain, sleet, and the great quick snowstorms that usually get us all fired up. But I got chills all over my body that day as we supported the defense one more time. What made it so great was that it occurred not after a big stop or on the goal line, but while they were walking towards the locker room.

As a defensive player, I would have considered this one of the greatest ovations I have ever heard. I have been to 14 different professional stadiums, with a goal to see all 32 before I die, and I have never seen a crowd respond to their defense the way we did that day.

Although I've forgotten the date, the weather, and the quarterback for us that game, I have not forgotten the feeling. It's a feeling I carry with me every time the defense plays well at home. I always tell the story to fans of other teams, especially the ones who don't appreciate defense the way we do.

It's an appreciation that the hard working, dedicated fans of the 80's can truly appreciate. I don't remember the 70's, I was too young. I grew up with offensive heros such as Jackson, Abercrombie, Moncreif, Stoudt, Malone, Weegie Thomspon, Paul Skansi, and my favorite Louie Lipps. Our defensive heros were Merriweather, Woodruff, Gary, Little, Willis, etc. These guys from the 80's paved the way for Woodson, Greene, Lloyd, & Kirland during our turnaround in the 90's.

I will truly miss Three Rivers, and I'll always love the defense.

-- Allan Stratton


I have grown up in Texas and still live in Texas, yet been a die-hard Steeler fanatic. When I hear the words "Three Rivers Stadium", I think of the slippery rainy days when the Steelers whipped the Oilers repeatedly to go to the Super Bowl or the snow pounding the turf. I can still see very clearly the rolled up jerseys on those big, beefy linemen's arms. The puff of chilling breath out of Jack Ham or Jack Lambert's toothless mouths. I see Mean Joe Greene pounding his foot in the turf to get a grip before the snap to crush the helpless quarterbacks that dared to enter the "Steel Curtain".

Three Rivers Stadium reminds me of all the hard blue collar workers that genuinely backed the Steelers through thick and thin. I see Mr. Rooney sitting in his seat puffing on that huge cigar, yet remaining as humble as one can be. I see Rocky Blier just gutting out every play as if he was still battling in the war. I see Franco Harris with a beard, without a beard, with a beard, without a beard, breaking tackles and just being FRANCO. I can remember Franco rumbling in for a touchdown on TV and seeing cars parked near the end zone as prizes for fans. Three Rivers Stadium is where John Stallworth and Lynn Swann made the "duo receiving core" famous.

Teams have learned that two superstar receivers make championship teams. I can still see Terry Bradshaw throwing perfect spirals that disappeared off the television screen at the top, then suddenly landing in the arms of his superstar cast for yet another STEELER touchdown. Even then, I can still see Chuck Noll not smiling, keeping the game face on until the final seconds of yet another cold, rainy or snowy playoff game at Three Rivers.

I will never forget that Three Rivers chant, "Here we go Steelers, Here we go". The rumble of that chant was like spectators witnessing their gladiator destroying his opponent. The sea of yellow represented the loyalty and dedication of the jammed pack Three River Stadium Fans.

The terrible towel was started at Three Rivers! Now you see towels being waved everywhere, just different colors, different stadiums. Three Rivers is the stadium that didn't like its Steelers to lose.

Remember the playoff game against the Oilers when Dan Pastorini threw a winning touchdown pass to Renfro, yet with the roar of the crowd, the waving of the terrible towels, and the mystic of just being at Three Rivers, the catch was ruled out of bounds. Clearly, the next day the Houston Chronicle had a perfect picture of the should-have-been touchdown.

Yet the Steelers were going to the Super Bowl. In addition, Three Rivers would not deny the Steelers another Super Bowl appearance when a Hail Mary from Jim Harbaugh of the Colts was dropped in the end zone on the final play.

I will always remember that Three River Stadium is the HOME of the two World Champions in the same year ... the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Three Rivers Stadium brought "We are family" back to life! What a coincidence: Family is always number one and so are my Pittsburgh Steelers. There comes a time when the future will take over and the past will only be a memory. Three Rivers Stadium has given us many memories that will be cherished for life. It is only appropriate to put a piece of Three Rivers in the new stadium. Don't forget what got you were you are Pittsburgh!

Three Rivers Stadium put Pittsburgh on the map.

-- Jody Ball