Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Jul 2005

Steeler Fan Celebrates 'Final Home Game'

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has this (depending on your perspective) amusing/touching/sick story of the funeral service for Steelers fan James Henry Smith, who was laid out lying in a recliner, a pack of cigarettes and a beer by his side, a Steelers blanket across his lap, and Steelers higlights playing on an HDTV nearby.

I've heard of sports-themed weddings, and even attended one at a Mets game a few years back, but never a sports-themed funeral service.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 06 Jul 2005

24 comments, Last at 09 Jul 2005, 2:22pm by Paul


by B (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 3:14pm

I think this falls somewhere between "kinda creepy" and "totally sick."

by Luz (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 3:21pm

when i saw this story in the paper this morning my first thought was, "that's pretty morbid" and then "why the hell is this in the paper?"

by ZasZ (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 3:26pm


Considering the current media's love of sensationalism, I think your first impression answers your own question.

by Tim (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 4:00pm

Given, "In silk black-and-gold pajamas, velvety black robe and slippers . . . his pack of cigarettes and a beer by his side," the most amazing phrase in this entire article was:

"Because Smith was slim. . . "

Until that sentence I was picturing a cross between Jim Belushi and Cliff from Cheers (John Ratzenberger). Now I see him more as the guy who pretended to be Ned in "Waking Ned Devine."

by Israel (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 4:10pm

Luz, I saw this in the morning as well and my two thoughts were 1) It's July and they have nothing else to write about and 2) Aaron certainly wouldn't run such nonsense.

by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 4:23pm

Personally, I think the guy got his timing on the thing messed up. This sounds like a much better way to go than it does a way to be honored. Sort of like going to a whorehouse after being castrated.

by year of the dolphin (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 4:28pm


by one for the thumb (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 5:08pm

I actually think this is totally normal. I grew up in western PA though, so maybe I'm not normal. I still get excited to see Bam Morris go in from a yard out to beat the Colts. That sure beats sitting around thinking about being sad.

by R. Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 5:11pm

When I go I want to be buried with my Glock, my PS2, and all my porn!

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 5:16pm

This is less morbid for the Pittsburgh sports pages than reading about the Pirates...

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 7:36pm

My first reaction upon reading this was, wow, this guy needs to get a life.

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 11:21pm

#10 is actually quite right, it's tough to put anything positive in a Pittsburgh sports page right now...

I'm glad I got to see the awesome Tribe night game on the 4th instead...

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 11:25pm

Don't listen to #9. I'm the real Ron Mexico!

by jimmo (not verified) :: Thu, 07/07/2005 - 12:09am

ha, just saw this on the local news, in Detroit! Morbid indeed, straight out of Six Feet Under...

by Dervin (not verified) :: Thu, 07/07/2005 - 5:04am

I can see what all his friends said, "I came to pay my respects, I stayed for the Highlights."

by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 07/07/2005 - 1:57pm

#10: "This is less morbid for the Pittsburgh sports pages than reading about the Pirates…"


But yeah...I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I'm a die-hard Steeler fan...but this is nuts even for me.

by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Fri, 07/08/2005 - 12:24am

It was a common question in April in Pittsburgh, whether the Pirates or Steelers would win more games in 2005. Gotta throw those folks a bone.

by J (not verified) :: Fri, 07/08/2005 - 9:53am

yeah yeah yeah...the Bucos are terrible.

Thank goodness for the NFL salary cap! Without it, the Steelers would not be any better.

As for the Steeler fan's funeral, I like it. It seemed to be a celebration of his life. At my funeral, I want the beer to be flowing, the music pumping, and the people dancing.

by Balaji (not verified) :: Fri, 07/08/2005 - 1:52pm

#18: "Thank goodness for the NFL salary cap! Without it, the Steelers would not be any better."

Yeah? They seemed to do okay in the 70s, before the advent of the salary cap system.

I'm not saying they would necessarily be that good these days without a cap, but you do have to keep in mind that the Steelers, unlike the Pirates, aren't run by a bunch of bumbling idiots. I very much doubt the Steelers would have signed a player like Derek Bell.

by OMO (not verified) :: Fri, 07/08/2005 - 2:57pm

Re: #15

Any truth to the rumor that instead of flowers people brought warm 6 packs of Iron City Beer?

After all...it tastes like embalming fluid. :)

by J (not verified) :: Fri, 07/08/2005 - 3:01pm

The Steelers did do well in the 70s, but that was before the huge increases in pro sport salaries.

THe Bucos did okay in 79, winning the world series. Even in the early 90s, just before pro sport salary inflation, they had a great team with Bonds, Bonilla, Van Slyke, Bream, Lind, etc...they always blew it in the playoffs...Bonds - cough, cough - choke!

The Steelers probably do have better management, but it would not matter without the salary cap. The Big market teams would have all the good players, and would win SB after SB...even more so than baseball. There is no way a small market team could generate the revenue needed to win without the salary cap.

by J (not verified) :: Fri, 07/08/2005 - 3:05pm


Iron is good for the blood.

by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2005 - 12:11am

Are you insinuating that Sid Bream and Jose Lind were good players?

by Paul (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2005 - 2:22pm

Bream, the slowest white guy in baseball, next to Mike Lavalliere, but he was just fast enough to win it for the Braves. After which the Bonds left for SF, Van Slyke and Bonilla got their paychecks and stopped playing, and the Pirates should have just officially become a Triple A team (no offense to the Triple A teams out there)