This year’s Super Bowl presents a special match-up: two teams named for the local industries that support their diehard fans. The Steelers emerged from Pittsburgh’s steelmaking foundries, while the Packers honor their sturdy meatpacking industry.
Both teams are understandably proud of their hometown fans and the work they do. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh were built on manufacturing, and are the respective epicenters of paper and meatpacking, and of the steel industry, in America. Both cities have suffered heavy manufacturing job losses, but some paper production remains in Green Bay, and Pittsburgh still retains a steel presence. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh also enjoy a loyal following built on the middle-class, blue-collar jobs supported by these industries.
VIDEO: Click here to watch two Green Bay Packers talk about what manufacturing means to their community. While most Americans are aware of Pittsburgh’s connection to steel, it may surprise some football fans to learn that manufacturing (not dairy farming) is Wisconsin’s primary economic sector and that the Badger State is now the #1 manufacturing density state in the U.S.
This is not the first Super Bowl that pits two teams from proud working class communities against each other. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is pleased to present the first-ever Super Bowl Manufacturing Index:
1967: Super Bowl I: Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10. Total U.S. manufacturing jobs: 17.9 million
1979: Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31. Total U.S. manufacturing jobs: 19.4 million
2010: Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17. Total U.S. manufacturing jobs: 11.6 million
2011: Super Bowl XLV: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers. Total U.S. manufacturing jobs: (estimated) 11.7 million.
Historically, there have been some great manufacturing matchups of working-class teams in the Super Bowl:
-1967, SuperBowl I: Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10. The inaugural Super Bowl pitted Wisconsin’s heavy manufacturing workforce against Kansas City’s fellow meatpackers and auto workers.
-1980, SuperBowl XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19. While the Steelers hailed from a visibly steel mill town, many football fans were unaware that Los Angeles ranks as the #1 manufacturing county in the U.S. California is still home to more than 1 million manufacturing jobs.
-1991, SuperBowl XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19. New York is famous for Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and Niagara Falls, but it also holds a half-million-strong manufacturing workforce despite losing more than 200,000 factory jobs in the past decade. Bills fans have undoubtedly watched with dismay as both automotive and steel jobs have declined in western NY.
-2004, SuperBowl XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29. A good question is where the uniforms worn in this game were made. Many textile jobs left New England a few decades ago, moving to the Carolinas and other southern states. NC and SC have lost more than a combined 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000, many of them good textile jobs that supported Panthers fans and their communities before heading to Latin America and Asia.
-2007, SuperBowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17. This steel and auto parts match-up took place while the nation’s manufacturing employment fell below 14 million, to levels not seen since before 1961.
Said Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM): “As we celebrate this year’s Super Bowl, let’s not forget the men and women who have made these team great– their blue-collar fan base. We can keep these communities strong by supporting a strong American manufacturing base and its highly skilled workers.”