Welcome to our new series celebrating some of the best NFL fans in the world, Australian ones! Today we have a Steelers fan who resides in Bangkok!
Firstly, who are you, what do you do, where do you live and who do you support? My name is Ryan Ollerton, a die hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan. I am a 30yo Aussie now living in Bangkok, Thailand on a 3 year work assignment. I am a Regional Commodity Buyer for the Ford Motor Company Asia Pacific office. I have been in Bangkok for just over a year now after re-locating from Melbourne, and am really surprised at how popular the NFL is here in Thailand. It is quite common to see the odd NFL jersey on the back of a few Thai locals which always gets my attention and a random discussion. How did you come to support that team? I visited the states in 2007 with 3 of my best friends where we did a stint in New York, before flying to New Orleans to pick up a rental car and begin a 2 week road trip to Vegas. I was always interested in the NFL, but never really understood the sport until this particular trip. It was on this trip that I saw my first NFL game at a bar in NYC, it just so happened to be a Steeler game. It was love at first sight! Despite the fact that my favourite colour is yellow, it was a particular play that made me jump for joy. Seeing Troy Polamalu and his flowing locks cover 20 yards in the blink of an eye and light up a running back at full pace made me realise that this team was for me. From that moment, it is fair to say that the Steelers, and the NFL has gradually taken over my life. Who is your favourite player currently on the roster? It is nearly impossible to pick just one player, as I have so many favourite players, particularly on Defense (James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, Ike Taylor, Casey Hampton etc.). However, I have to go with my boy Troy Polamalu for his spectacular plays and minimal fear of impact with an opponent. Special mention to coach Mike Tomlin, its not often a coach gets a mention but this guy really is special. His interviews and motivational speeches are inspiring and make me want to go into battle for him. Who is your all time favourite player? Despite being a fan for only 5 years or so, thanks to the Americas Game series and the internet I am well up to speed on the amazing history of the Steelers and the Rooney family. The Steel Curtain and The Immaculate Reception of the 70's and the record 6 Superbowls mean I am well informed of the likes of 'Mean' Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, Dwight White, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Rod Woodson, Joey Porter, Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward to name a few. If I had to pick an all time favourite Steeler it would have to be Jerome "The Bus" Bettis. The are some questions surrounding Mike Wallace going into training camp and a distinct possibility that he may sit out. Are you as a fan concerned? I am concerned, but I don't think the Steelers will break the bank on him. From all reports (Mr Rooney, Coach Tomlin and Big Ben), they all believe Wallce will show up for Training camp in July. I think Wallace is an explosive reciever, and our main deep threat. He definately deserves to be paid, but the Steelers will never pay WR's top line money, they have a history of letting WR's leave when they ask for too much. He is demanding Larry Fitzgerald and "Megatron" money which is way too much for what Wallace gives us. Wallace should sign his tender for $2.7M and play out his final contract year. If he peforms, the Steelers will look after him, or he will at least get the franchise tag next year (around $9.5M). My main concern with Wallace misisng OTA's and training camp is becasue we are installing a new offense under Todd Haley, and as our no.1 reciever, he is missing out on a lot of learning time. In the end, I am more than comfortable with our recieiving corps even without Wallace, we already have Antonio Brown, Emmanual Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. With Wallace back, that would have to be one of the best WR corps in the NFL, and would make our offense even more dangerous. At what position do you expect the Steelers to improve this year? The main area we needed to improve this offseason was the offensive line, defensive line and line backer. They certainly addressed all of these needs in the draft. Taking David De Castro (Guard) and Mike Adams (Tackle) with the no.1 and no.2 picks will surely make Big Ben sleep better at night. I really think with these 2 additions, and the move of Willie Colon from Tackle to Guard, will help sure up the OL, and give Ben more in pass protection. This is critical to this seasons success, as the main reason we struggled towards the back end of last year was due to the many injuries to Ben. A healthy Ben basically guarentees playoffs every year for the Steelers. Is there an area you think they may regress? Most people are expecting a drop off in production with the running back position due to Rashard Mendenhall being out for an extended period of time with his ACL injury. However, I am quite confiident that Isaac Redman and co. will do quite well this year, especially with a better O line creating some lanes (Keep an eye out for Baron Batch and Chris Rainey). The one area I believe we will have some issues with is stopping the run. Under Dick LeBau, the first priority for the Steelers on Defense for the past 10 years is to always stop the run and make the other team one dimensional. With the loss of our defensive captain and spiritual leader in James Farrior, I do think this area could be exploited by opposing teams. We may have some confusion or delays in communication before the snap, and need the likes of Timmons and Foote to really step up in the leadership category and ensure everyone on D knows where they need to be in order to stop the run. Hopefully rookie Sean Spence will also get some minutes, he is getting rave reviews and apparently has the football IQ to develop into a leader on D. What was your best moment as a fan? The most amazing moment for me was the Superbowl 43 victory against the Arizona Cardinals. I watched this live at the NFL Down Under Super Bowl party in Melbourne. It was an amazing game, and to see Ben drive 78 years in just over 2 mins and throw an inch perfect 6 yard game winning strike to Santonio Holmes was a moment I will never forget. Special mention to James Harrison's 100 yard interception return at the end of the 1st half, probably my favourite Steeler play of all time. The other special moment was my first live game at Heinz Field in 2010 vs Baltimore Ravens. I spent the morning tailgating with friends and also bumped into some players out at the bars later that night where I was lucky enough to grab some photos with a few players (Nick Eason - Defensive End, Chris Kemoeatu - Offensive Guard).
How do you follow the sport as an Aussie? I try to get over to Pittsburgh once a year to catch a live game, but in the meantime I make do with a large dose of NFL Gamepass, NFL Network, ESPN, Steelers.com, Fantasy Football and of course NFL Downunder. I'm actually quite lucky, right at the end of my street in Bangkok, I have a sports bar called Sport Corner, which just happens to be the best bar in Bangkok for American sports, especially the NFL. I am now good friends with the American owner (Tim), and he can basically show any NFL game live or by replay upon request in large screen HD. They threw an amazing Superbowl party this year. If anyone is ever visiting Bangkok, you can find me at the bar with my Terrible Towel. http://www.thesportcorner.com I am the guy jumping up the air every time I see Joe Flacco get sacked! Is there anything about the NFL you wish was in Australian sport? Cheerleaders! Haha. No, I really love the strategic nature of NFL, and various offensive and defensive schemes that teams implement. People say it is too stop/start, but I really love this part of the game and the various mind games that go on between co-ordinators and head coaches. It is this part of the game that we don't really see or have access to as a fan of soccer, AFL or Rugby. I also love the atmosphere at the NFL games and the various traditions all of the teams have. No one does this Terrible Towel quite like us! I also like the in-game entertainment, especially when the Defense and crowd go bananas when they play the Renegade song live, goosebumps! See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH0iT6YUjeU Is there anything about Australian sport you wish was in the NFL? Not really, I like the NFL the way it is. (Apart from the new Kickoff rules which basically eliminate the possibility of a Kickoff return.) Which of your friends/family members have suffered the most due to your fandom? I would have to say my friends and family would have seen a serious reduction in my time with them over the past few years. It is now a daily ritual to read every Steeler article before I leave for work in the morning. Mondays especially are now dedicated to watching the Steelers game via Gamepass or any means possible, everything else can wait. (Probably the reason I'm still single!) Aww! Hang in there mate! There's got to be a lady Steelers fan out there! Thanks for sharing your love and knowledge of the Steelers with us!