Talking Steelers Football With…
Tamara Tunie is known to fans of Law & Order: SVU as Dr. Melinda Warner. But on game day, she is the one that turns into a fan, cheering for her hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.
She attended Steelers games in the late 70s, early 80s along with her sister, who is married to former Steelers running back Greg Hawthorne, but her busy schedule doesn’t allow her to attend games as often these days.
Tunie was at Heinz Field for the Steelers-Bengals game, as she showed off her Broadway talents singing the National Anthem. While in Pittsburgh she sat down with Teresa Varley for Talking Steelers Football.
Have you always been a Steelers fan?
Absolutely. I was born in McKeesport, grew up in Homestead and have been a Steelers fan from birth.
What was it like for someone who grew up in Pittsburgh to sing the National Anthem at a Steelers game?
It’s crazy. I tried to stay calm and focused so I didn’t mess it up. At the same time I wanted to scream and holler and jump up and down because I was so excited.
Did you go to games when you lived in Pittsburgh?
I did. My sister’s husband Greg Hawthorne played for the Steelers from 1979-83. We came to the games often when I was still in Pittsburgh, during my college days. I haven’t been to a game since the early 80s so I am really excited to be here.
What are some of your favorite Steelers memories?
When I was a kid and we weren’t at the game and we didn’t know anybody who played for the team, so it would be just watching the game, watching the Super Bowls and taking to the street after the game and cheering and yelling and being happy.
How closely are you able to follow the Steelers now?
I do on television. We have a whole Steelers nation in New York City. We all get together and watch the game. We are representing Pittsburgh in New York.
What is your game day ritual?
It’s all about football. We love football. Often times we don’t get the Steelers broadcast up there. I am this close to getting DirecTV so I can get the NFL package and see every Steelers game. My friend James King, who came with me to the game, he comes over. Manu Narayan, who is from Pittsburgh and is a performer who starred in Mike Meyers’ movie Love Guru and was a star on Broadway in Bombay Dreams. He is from Pittsburgh so he is a rabid fan and comes over. We just get together and watch the games. We have converted some of my other friends into Steelers fans. They come over on Sunday to watch the game. My husband who used to be in television, but is now a jazz vocalist, was an editor at CBS and did football every Sunday. He has Emmys for the NFL Today. He is retired from that now. But he is a great chef. He makes all of the tailgate treats and food while we are watching the game so it works out perfectly.
Do you have a Terrible Towel that comes out on game day?
I always have my Terrible Towel. I have two in case I can’t find one.
Being a fan of the team of the 70s, how great is it to see them back into the glory years, winning their sixth Super Bowl?
It’s fantastic. It’s been a while so when we got the one for the thumb I was ecstatic and now we are on to the other hand. It feels like the reign is back and the dynasty is back and we are going to keep it moving and we are going to get 10 rings. I am so excited about that.
Were you able to watch the Super Bowl?
We had a Super Bowl party at my house. My friends came over, some new converts came over and some people who don’t watch football until the Super Bowl came. Everybody was cheering for the Steelers. What is ironic is there is an actress named Gloria Rubin who is Canadian and she is a rabid fan. When it got down to the final wire and it was tied, she had to leave the room and go lay down on the floor because she couldn’t take it. I told her don’t worry; it’s going to be all right. Steelers’ football is 60 minutes and we are going to win and we did.
Is there a current Steelers player you enjoy watching, a guy whose game you respect?
Everybody probably says this, but (Troy) Polamalu is my guy. He has such heart. He is so 120 percent all of the time. He is relentless. I just admire him so much. And he is beautiful.
What are your thoughts on what Mike Tomlin has brought to this team?
I am so proud of Coach Tomlin. He is so cool. I love to watch him on the sidelines. No matter what is happening he keeps his head. I just feel such confidence exudes from him that the team is in such great hands. And then our defensive leader who I love so much, Mr. (Dick) LeBeau.
What current player would make a good medical examiner on your show?
Probably Hines Ward because he is always upbeat. Being a medical examiner can be depressing. I think Hines would be a great one because he is always looking at the bright side of things.
Who would make a good detective on the show?
I think Ben Roethlisberger would. He sees everything. He sees the big picture. He sees everything.
Who would you like to make a cameo on the show?
The entire team. Can we do that?