More truth about the Harford County Steelers love-in

March 29, 2010 | Drew Forrester

What a day.

Hordes of people have surfaced over the last 12 hours with respect to the visit by the villains from the Steel City on Sunday at North Harford HS.

A lot of folks – and rightfully so – are up in arms over the Steelers appearance in a basketball game at North Harford.

Then there are people – presumably these folks are from some other planet – who think WE (or me…or WNST) are over-reacting to this shameful visit from the black and gold.

Many contributors to my e-mail or blog comments think it’s perfectly fine that the Steelers set up shop in the Ravens backyard and peddled their wares and marketed their franchise in the outskirts of Baltimore.

Well, it’s NOT perfectly fine.

I’m not sure what yinz expected from me on Monday morning when I first learned of the love-in on Sunday at North Harford.

Was I supposed to just ignore it?  Would it have been better for me to say, “Hey, the Steelers set up camp in Harford County on Sunday and had a helluva an afternoon up there”?  Maybe I should have called the Steelers PR chief and asked him to come on the air with us and talk proudly about their invasion and “good deeds” at North Harford.  Yes?

I did what I should have done, as it turns out.  I went ballistic.

Let’s settle a few things here.  As always, I’ll be the effective moderator of this debate.  Leave it to an even-keeled guy like me to dish out the criticism when necessary and defend people when it’s required.

A bunch of people have said today, “this was a charity event…the Steelers were just being good guys.”

Wrong.  The North Harford HS football team is NOT a charity.  They are not a registered 501(c) organization.

The fact of the matter is this:  The North Harford HS team wanted to raise money for their program.  They needed new uniforms, or water coolers, or athletic tape, or who knows what.  And that’s all well and good.  Better for them to raise money on their own accord than to have the taxpayers of Harford County pay for it all.

But the crying and whining from people who say “this was for charity” are wrong.  Raising money for Juvenile Diabetes?  Yes, that’s a charitable endeavor.  Raising money so North Harford can build a new stadium or put up lights or buy better helmets for their players…those are all wonderful things.  But they’re NOT charity.

Stop using the word CHARITY in your comments and communications to me.  I have to remind myself of that as well…I’ve almost used it twice already in this blog.  What went down on Sunday was NOT a charitable event.  And if the Steelers used the payment they received from North Harford to distribute to charities in and around Pittsburgh, that makes it a charitable endeavor for THE STEELERS — not North Harford.

Next up:  People don’t understand why we’re so offended by Sunday’s game at North Harford.

The Steelers are from Pittsburgh.  They’re unwanted in Baltimore.  They’re viewed as the enemy here.  Period.

Anyone – including the Aegis or the County Executive or the football coach at North Harford – who doesn’t understand how out of place it is (was) to have the Steelers play a basketball game in Harford County just doesn’t get it.

And if you don’t get it, that doesn’t really make you a bad person, per-se.  It just makes you out of touch with reality, that’s all.

I’ll go back to what I said earlier today.

There are gobs and gobs of ways to raise money.

And none of them involve bringing in the Steelers.

The facts are this:  North Harford HS is filled with teachers, coaches and staff members who are Steelers fans.  I know that because the football coach admitted that on my show today (his fandom) and others have reached out to me to tell me stories about how teachers “rewarded” students with no homework if the Steelers beat the Ravens, for example.

Evidently, the sports editor at The Aegis is a Steelers fan too.  He’s scheduled to appear on the show with me on Tuesday morning, so we’ll address that with him at that point.

So here’s what happened.  Rather than go with some traditional fund-raising method, or, perhaps organizing a basketball game with members of the media or some ex-NFL players like Tommy Polley and Antonio Freeman, for example, the folks at North Harford fulfilled their own personal agenda by bringing the Steelers to Harford County.  I notice they didn’t bring in the Bengals or the Falcons.  They brought the Steelers in because they’re Steelers fans.  And so are a bunch of people in Harford County, evidently.

The Ravens don’t field an off-season basketball team because, honestly, the Ravens don’t like the risks that go along with having their players appear in functions like that.  I understand that.  I once had a player with the Blast (Ralph Black) sprain his ankle and miss 2 months because of an injury HE suffered in a basketball game at Lutheran High School.

So because the Ravens didn’t respond favorably, that made it easy for the folks at North Harford to sell the Steelers visit to the students, their families and anyone who was disgruntled about those rat finks in black and gold showing up in the Ravens market.

Truth of the matter?  It’s their school…they can do what they want.  And if they raised the amount of money they were hoping to raise, they came out smelling like a rose.

But they have to be prepared for some backlash.

They brought the Steelers into the Ravens backyard.

That’s unacceptable.

And if you don’t understand why it’s unacceptable, you’re better off living in Irwin or Swissvale or Oakmont.

Harford County is RAVENS country.