DeAngelis is displaced fan of Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 1, 2009

NATCHEZ — Football fans in Natchez generally don black and gold jerseys with fleurs-de-lis, fly purple and gold flags outside their homes, drink hot toddy in October and November and incessantly ring cowbells.

But Tony DeAngelis waves a Terrible Towel.

And today, that bright yellow towel with the black lettering will be waving nonstop from early in the morning until late into the night.

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That’s because DeAngelis’ beloved Pittsburgh Steelers are in the Super Bowl for the sixth time.

DeAngelis, the owner of DeAngelis Construction, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and although he lives in Natchez now, he’s still a part o the Steeler Nation.

“It’s like religion, only 10 times more,” DeAngelis said. “You can’t not be a Steelers fan and be from Pittsburgh. Nothing compares to the Steelers. If you’re a Steelers fan, you’ll understand. If you’re not, you’ll never get it.”

DeAngelis and his wife Beth, a realtor for Paul Green and Associates, are holding two Super Bowl parties today — an early tailgate at their home on Martin Luther King Street and a game-watching party at their house on Lake Concordia.

“We’re just going to put our Steelers tent up and our 8-foot tall (inflatable) Steeler-man,” DeAngelis said. “We’ll cook hot dogs and things out on the grill and just generally celebrate. We’ll try to pace ourselves for the serious party later.”

DeAngelis said he would even make a clothesline out of the 40 or so Terrible Towels he’s collected.

The tailgate will run from noon to 2 p.m., and after that, the “40 or 50 or 60 of our closest friends” will head to the lake to watch the game on giant TVs set up in the living room, the back porch and on the pier of the lake house.

“I put some lights on the trees, and I’ve got some friends coming in from New Orleans,” DeAngelis said. “If we get too overfilled, I guess we’ll have to move to the bedrooms.”

DeAngelis’ daughter, a graduate of LSU, is in nursing school at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where Super Bowl XLIII is being played.

He said his daughter was a little upset he didn’t come visit her and take her to the game.

“It’s one of those things where we could go, but it’s a lot nicer watching it on TV,” he said. “There’s nothing like being there though. If there were one in New Orleans or Pittsburgh I might go.”

DeAngelis said he still goes to at least one Steelers game a year, usually around New Year’s when he goes to visit his family.

He said his mother and seven sisters still live in the shadows of downtown Pittsburgh.

And even Beth has gotten into the spirit since he began taking her to games.

“She claims she’s more of a fan than I am,” he said. “I have gotten her indoctrinated into the religion. I take her up north with me, and she paints her face and goes to the game and screams and yells with the best of them.”

DeAngelis said he always has faith in his Steelers, who have won five Super Bowls in six appearances.

But he is a little nervous about this year’s competition, the Arizona Cardinals — he expected to play the New York Giants or the Philadelphia Eagles.

“They’re a good team, and their head coach (Ken Whisenhunt) is the former offensive coordinator for the Steelers,” DeAngelis said. “he engineered the offense for their last Super Bowl win. We’ll have to see if he remembers it.”

Either way, though, DeAngelis is glad his team has made it to the big game.

The Steelers have a chance to hold the record for most Super Bowls won, and if they do win Sunday, DeAngelis said he’ll be really happy — and probably be covered in black and yellow gear.

“I’ve got Steelers shirts, coats, hats, ties, socks, slippers — you name it.”