Seven years ago yesterday I started blogging about the Steelers. I cleverly titled it Heels, Sox and Steelers (amazingly, the URL was available) because there was a time when I followed sports other than football.
Back then, people still called them “web logs” and Blogspot was about as reliable as AT&T’s cell phone service. But I was fresh out of graduate school, in a new job, and the hours I had kept as a student — mostly afternoons and late nights — were suddenly freed up. So I decided to write about the Steelers.
At the time, there was plenty to discuss; the team was fresh off a 6-10 effort, the offensive line was in worse shape than it ever was this season, Tommy Maddox was the quarterback, and Tim Lewis was putting the finishing touches on a forgettable run as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator. Oh, and the Steelers had the 11th overall pick in the 2004 draft. Think about that: I’ve been blogging about this team longer than Ben Roethlisberger has been a part of it. That’s insane. (More insane: Gretz was in
high school college when HSS was launched.)
I had no real expectations going in. But the more I wrote (both on the blog and other places, namely Football Outsiders), the more people read. I would never describe HSS’s traffic as anything more than niche, and the revenue it generated was literally beer money once a month. But even then, long before Facebook, Twitter, search engine optimization and the flurry of blogs that would follow, HSS was about community.
I have said it countless times before, but the commenters on HSS were the best thing about the experience. Sure, back in the early days, I used to actually post frequently, but it quickly got to the point where the site’s bread and butter were its comments.
FanHouse officially launched in September 2006, and it became my full-time gig a year later. My HSS output was inversely proportional to my FanHouse work, which is to say that the commenters did the heavy lifting for the last few years, right up until I joined forces with Gretz, JJ and Ted last summer to form Steelers Lounge.
SL has exceeded every expectation we had, perhaps none more surprising than the podcast. For some reason, people like it. It blows my mind, frankly. But without listeners, it would never have happened. So, again, hats off to the customer (you’re always right! … even you, DJ Any Reason).
Several of you mentioned it in the Super Bowl recap post, but let me just echo those sentiments here: thanks for making SL what it is. It’s hard to find fans on the tubes that are both passionate and smart. More than that, we’re respectful of different opinions, even when it’s Ted lamenting for the 200th time that the Steelers were dumb to give Santonio Holmes up for a Twix bar. (We all agree!)
JJ brought this up earlier, but what would people like to see on Steelers Lounge going forward? We’re all ears. If there’s something that you think might be interesting, shoot us a note. If there’s something you hate, we’d like to know that too. So fire away.
Finally, I know this seems like a eulogy of sorts, and maybe it is for the 2010 season. But, Lord willing, we’re not going anywhere. In fact, as I joked to JJ today, the offseason is where you make your money. So we’ll be busy either discussing the combine, free agency and the draft, or if there is no labor deal, JJ has threatened to go all-old-school, all the time.
But seriously: thanks.
And now, to lift your spirits, some links from Super Bowl’s past:
- Recaps of every game from the 2005 season
- Game thread from the 2008 Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl
- My FanHouse Super Bowl XLIII Live Blog. No idea how I was able to write and watch that game.
- This seems more appropriate now, but probably one of the posts I’m most proud of from my FanHouse days, written the day after Super Bowl XLIII: Big Ben: The Best Game Manager Ever.
Group hugs, high fives and back to work.