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When two of pro football’s most storied franchises meet on the sport’s biggest stage Sunday night, millions around the country will be watching, including two of the teams’ biggest fans in Carroll County: Daryl and Jimmy Ray.
While the brothers will be cheering against one another in Super Bowl XLV—Daryl for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jimmy for the Green Bay Packers — the rivalry won’t extend past the final whistle.
“We’ve never had a cross word; It’s all about having fun, but I’m not above talking some smack,” Daryl said with a grin. “You couldn’t pick a better game.”
However, two things that Daryl does hate are people who have jumped on the Steelers’ bandwagon now because they are good and Cincinnati Bengals fans. He said he “catches heck” every day about being a Steelers fan while he is at work. “That’s a Bengals fan’s favorite thing to do. It’s because they’re jealous,” he said.
Daryl said when he was growing up, baseball was the number one sport. Born in Carrollton, he and the family moved to San Diego. Calif., when he was a child before Jimmy was born because their dad was in the Navy. They moved back to Carrollton in 1979.
Daryl’s favorite baseball player was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Roberto Clemente, and he began cheering for the Steelers during the 1969-70 season. He said the team only won one game that year (1-13), proving he did not start liking them simply because they were winning at the time.
Daryl said the family-owned team has “got integrity. It’s a fantastic organization to be a fan of. You can’t get attached to a certain player because the next thing you know, they’re gone.”
As an example, he cites the Steelers’ decision to trade wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft pick in 2010. Holmes was the hero in 2008-09 for catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the Steelers’ Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Arizona Cardinals. However, he was traded for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy during the 2010 offseason. Daryl said this was an example of the organization “weeding out the thugs,” even if they are still elite players.
While he was a San Diego Chargers fan growing up, Jimmy became a fan of the Packers through the arrival of quarterback Brett Favre to the team in 1992. Favre played for Green Bay from 1992-2007 and won the Super Bowl in the 1996-97 season over the New England Patriots. Jimmy said he liked the way Favre played the game with passion and fun, and he admired his leadership abilities. Even after Favre left the Packers to play a season for the New York Jets and two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, Jimmy remained loyal, even cheering for Favre when he played the Packers because he couldn’t root against him.
Jimmy said he also became a Packers fan after learning more about the organization, which is owned by the community rather than a typical ‘team owner.’ “I’m hook, line and sinker,” he said. “… Great organization, great place. Good fans, smart fans.”
Ironically, Jimmy’s second-favorite team is the Steelers. Daryl said he does not have a second-favorite, but he does like the Packers and especially the atmosphere of going to see a game at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. Jimmy has also traveled with his brother to see the Steelers play at home, most memorably the Monday Night Football game against the Packers at Three Rivers Stadium in 1998.
Jimmy said at one point he was traveling to Lambeau once a year to see a home game, but has not had the opportunity lately. Daryl also said he has not been traveling as much, but he at least tries to make it to Cincinnati every year to see the Steelers take on the Bengals.
When attending a game, the brothers said they do not have many game-day traditions. Daryl said he always makes sure to bring his “Terrible Towel,” a famous symbol for the Steelers, and Jimmy said he always wears a Favre jersey and eats a brat at the game.
While Jimmy said he has a small fortune of Favre and Packers memorabilia in his basement, Daryl took his team loyalty a step further and slightly more permanent: a Steelers tattoo. However, he is not alone; Daryl said he knows five other people in Carroll County that have a tattoo immortalizing the black and gold.
Daryl also had a motorcycle painted like a Steelers helmet, but he sold it in 2007. Ironically, he purchased the bike, which was originally cream and turquoise, in Wisconsin near Green Bay in 2002 or 2003. It had helmet logos sent to him from the Steelers’ Heinz Field stuck on it, and the front fender had the years and Roman numerals for each of their Super Bowl wins painted on it. Daryl had it redone in 2006 when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
The brothers said they try to watch NFL games together on Sundays, and Daryl will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday at Jimmy’s house. When asked about the outcome of the game, both predicted a 24-21 victory … for their own team, of course.
“[The Packers] have a good all-around team,” Jimmy said. “They have so many offensive weapons, same way on the defense. They’re young, and they’re hungry.”
“Been there, done that,” Daryl said of the Steelers. “Pride, work ethic. No one can run on us, not a chance. Not only are we number one [in run defense], but we’re number one by a lot … It’s going to be a very good game. It’s going to be close.”