Almost every Colts fan has heard by now how Coach Pagano encouraged a Steelers fan at camp to wear a Colts jersey or GTFO. For the majority of us, this was viewed as a great move by a new coach who wants to instill a strong sense of pride in a fanbase that has been reeling since last fall.
However, there is a small but vocal contingent out there who view this move as a slight against them. I'm talking, of course, of the butthurt Steelers fans.
Last night I saw a post on Facebook from a friend who is also a Steelers fan in Indianapolis. He was encouraging "Steeler Nation" to come out to Colts camp bedecked in Black and Gold. Needless to say I took issue with this and suggested that he not attempt to sabotage the efforts of a new coaching staff to instill a sense of team pride in a fragile and damaged fanbase. This was met with the cliche response of "Your coach could worry about coaching HIS team and be more concerned with his players focusing on what's going on on the field rather than what's going on in the stands." To me, that's the laziest response someone could offer. To suggest that coaches and players at training camp shouldn't attempt to connect with and motivate their fanbase is ludicrous, but when it comes from a fan of one of the premiere franchises in the NFL it's borderline offensive in its stupidity.
If a Colts fan was at Steelers camp and Mike Tomlin had done the same as Pagano, Steelers fans would be climbing over one another to see who could be first to build him a statue. If the same had happened in New England, no one would bat an eyelash. But for some reason, because this happened at Colts camp, and because it happened to a Steelers fan, it's a travesty.
There are a lot of fanbases I don't care for, mainly because of the team, but no fanbase is as reprehensible as "Steeler Nation". They are the ultimate instigators, the vermin in your basement that, despite your best efforts, you just can't get rid of. They actively attempt to take over any and every NFL venue with a sense of entitlement that smacks of spoiled children. And that stupid-ass towel. Don't get me started on that towel. I was at last year's Sunday Night game against the Steelers and I desperately wanted Painter to win that game just so I could watch thousands of Steelers fans choke on that damn towel.
The worst part of the reaction of Steelers fans to Pagano's actions is that it completely ignores the Colts in general and becomes about the rivalry between the Steelers and the Ravens. I understand that there is an intense rivalry between those teams, but to blatantly ignore the history between the Colts and Steelers is so arrogant it's beyond comprehension. Personally, I don't care what exactly prompted Zbikowski to point out the fan to Pagano and Pagano to ask him to wear a Luck jersey, all I care about is the fact that it was done under the Horseshoe.
So here's what I ask from fellow Colts fans who may be attending camp, or may have friends/acquaintances that are Steelers fans: Please do what you can to continue to show pride in this team. If you see rival fans trying to overtake training camp, please encourage (but don't threaten) them not to do so. Ask them to show some sportsmanship and class. Hopefully they'll take the hint.