This is Pittsburgh. This is the Super Bowl. There are 250,000 people jammed into the downtown in the middle of a workday in February. As Steeler linebacker number 55 Joey Porter said, “There is nobody working; nobody in school. They’re all here!”

We needed this.

The city is bankrupt. Every scheme to save the region, once the steel corporations, Westinghouse and all the affiliated industries committed murder in the ‘80s, failed. The “new economy” gave us US Air, which after countless concessions from their pilots, flight attendants and mechanics, and millions of public dollars, went bust.

The medical industry produced a handful of superstars of transplant surgery, but tens of thousands of professionals and non-professionals struggle with an endless workday, declining wages and understaffing that makes grownups cry. It is almost totally non-union.

Bio-tech and high tech was supposed to be the corporate lifeline for Pittsburgh. The former LTV and before that J&L Steel Corp. site was devoted to the “future,” in the city where, during the Super Bowl run of the ‘70s, over 20,000 union families were able to buy a home and send their kids to college. That corporate “future” vision saw the city’s population shrink from 600,000 in the era of four Super Bowl victories to about 320,000 when the final gun sounded in Detroit this month.

There are times when it seems like the only guy working is the guy selling exterior grade plywood to board up abandoned property.

The Pittsburgh region had the largest concentration of industrial workers in the world the last time the Super Bowl trophy was carried through the streets by the game’s MVP. Now it has the largest concentration of senior citizens.

Nothing in Pittsburgh is easy. To get to Detroit, even compete on Super Sunday, the Steelers had to win three road games. It was a roller-coaster season with the city’s pride ending up a wild card, sixth seed in the playoff tournament. The road to Detroit, our soul mate, destination of the steel products still rolled in the Mon Valley, went through Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver. Somehow, even with a Jerome Bettis fumble, his first in recent memory, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s game-saving tackle, the Steelers made it. Only in Pittsburgh would a quarterback be remembered for a tackle. They didn’t collapse. Didn’t throw three interceptions. Stayed with what they do best, with a little imagination and a big dose of leadership. They fought as a team and played like there was no tomorrow.

The pride is back. For a brief moment here, the best-known product is steel toughness, steel brains, steel values and steel confidence, not Heinz ketchup, not Santorum.

The grit of Pittsburgh met the laptops of Seattle and, at the end of 60 minutes, the grit walked off with the Lombardi trophy.

Stay tuned. This city, this region, this working class has more history to record and it is not just in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com) is president of the Wilkinsburg, Pa., Borough Council, next door to Pittsburgh, and a member of the People’s Weekly World editorial board.

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