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Steelers Nation on way to Manatee

BRADENTON — The phone started ringing even before wild-haired Steelers safety Troy Polamalu scored with the AFC championship icing interception 10 days ago.

Jason and Laurie Rector knew who was calling.

Little Dominic probably did, too.

“‘Hey, can we stay if we come down?’” Jason said, imitating family and friends needing a place to crash after the migration to Tampa and Super Bowl XVIII.

The Rectors’ condo, accessorized in all things Steelers, may be a little crowded.

“Our door’s always open,” Jason said.

“Yeah,” Laurie said. “As long as they’re rooting for the right team.”

Dominic will enjoy the company.

At 6 months old, he’s got black-and-gold in his blood.

“He won’t drink out of a baby bottle anymore,” said Jason, who is being Mr. Mom while Laurie works. “He wants his Steeler cup.”

Dominic is the progeny of a true Steelers family.

He was conceived the weekend his parents saw a 2007 game against the archrival Cleveland Browns at snowy Heinz Field.

“He’s never seen snow — but he was there,” Dad joked.

Dominic’s middle name is Francisco.

“So we can call him Franco (like Steelers legend Franco Harris) if we want to when he gets older,” Laurie said.

Mom’s earliest Steeler memories go back to her childhood in Wheeling, W.Va.

“I grew up listening to my dad yell at the Steelers on TV,” said Laurie, a clinical resource director at Blake Medical Center. “Everybody in the Ohio valley was like that.”

Including folks in St. Clairsville, Ohio, Jason’s hometown.

“Steeler football is like religion,” he said.

That didn’t change when the couple moved here.

They found out Steeler Nation was alive and well at places like Fanatics Sports Bar & Grill on 47th Street West and Cherry’s on 53rd Avenue West.

“Years ago after the mills closed down, there was nothing left,” Jason said of Pittsburgh’s Rust Belt industry. “Either you had to be related to somebody to get work or you moved away. So here we are.”

More will come, if only for this weekend.

With or without Super Bowl tickets.

The Rectors don’t.

“Tickets? No way,” Jason said. “Besides, I just knew we’d have a better time watching it with family and friends.”

There will be plenty of both Super Sunday.

Little Dominic can’t wait.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or email him at Please include a phone number for verification.