Ron Vergerio has gone to great lengths to turn his home in Springdale Township into a Steelers museum and his body into a living, breathing shrine.
Vergerio, 48, has more than 1,000 football collectibles, and the detailed, colored tattoo that adorns his entire back is the pinnacle. A dozen players and Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr., are all over him. So is the Pittsburgh skyline.
The work took Chris Blick of American Tattoo in Verona more than 100 hours to complete over 11 months. It is so detailed and eye-catching that it won first place in the Meeting of the Marked contest in Green Tree in October.
Among the 13 figures etched are Jack Lambert, Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Rod Woodson, Jerome Bettis and Kordell Stewart
"I'm a Kordell fan, win or lose," Vergerio said, adding, "I'm glad Tommy's playing well."
That's quarterback Tommy Maddox, who rallied the Steelers to victory against Cleveland a week ago and lifted them into today's AFC divisional playoff game against Tennessee at 4:30 p.m. at The Coliseum in Nashville.
"I think they can hang in there with (the Titans). But I think they're going to need a big play from some unknown," said Vergerio, a driver and license examiner for Laidlaw Transit Services Inc.
This is what Vergerio, who also has tattoos on his arms and legs, lives for. And lives in.
The gravel path leading to the front door of his Williams Street home directs visitors into the kitchen, where the cabinets are painted black and gold and photos of every Steeler line the walls near the ceiling.
Through a doorway between the refrigerator and stove sits the living room, where more photos, these of past Steelers greats, decorate the walls above the black leather sofas and chair. Vergerio estimates he owns as many as 800 Steelers photos.
Drapes with the Steelers logo — sewed by his wife of 26 years, Violet — hang from all the windows. It is in this living room that Vergerio, Violet and their four children — Angela, 24; Mel, 21; Teresa, 16; and Sheree, 12 — gather to watch the Steelers game on a new, 53-inch television. It was an early Christmas gift from their son — who is named after Vergerio's favorite Steeler, Mel Blount — and arrived in August, just in time for the preseason games.
Following the Steelers is a passion that has consumed Vergerio since the 1970s, when he first began attending training camp practices and started his photo collection. It is one that will continue to consume him, whether the Steelers win or lose.
"There's a lot of big Steeler fans," Vergerio said. "But I wouldn't think there are too many who are bigger fans."