Denver » It may pay for the Denver Broncos to watch the horizon this week: The invasion is coming.
In the NFL, there are few teams with coast-to-coast followings, rabid fan bases willing to beg, borrow or scalp their way into somebody else's stadium.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams, perhaps even the real America's Team these days. And even a franchise with a 40-year sellout streak like the Broncos may not be immune.
"We always know when we come out of the tunnel, they're going to be there, no matter where we are, what we're doing," said Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark. "And not just a few here, a few there, where you look up in the stands and they're way up high. They're everywhere in those stadiums.
"I don't know how they do it, but they do it."
And Monday night at Invesco Field at Mile High, where the 6-1 Broncos will face the 5-2 Steelers, the Broncos' fabled home-field advantage could be in jeopardy depending on how many of their fans have sold, traded or given their tickets to fans in black and gold twirling their towels.
"A lot of our fans have expressed those concerns to us, how some tickets are used," said Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis. "They would prefer to sit alongside other season-ticket holders.
"That said, we do recognize the right of season-ticket holders to resell their tickets to whomever they wish for whatever price they desire."
A quick Internet surf Wednesday indicated there were plenty of tickets to be had for Monday's game for those willing to pay the price. One online ticket broker had 325 tickets available for seats in the upper deck going for between $185 and $246 each. Another online broker had 158 tickets available going for $185 to $250 each in the upper deck.
That doesn't include other legal sellers with tickets that will be exchanged between friends, neighbors and co-workers, or those that will be scooped up on the sidewalks around the stadium Monday night by Steelers faithful.
The Dallas Cowboys once were dubbed "America's Team" by NFL Films, and the tag has stuck through the years. But the Steelers, as the league's only six-time Super Bowl winner, may have wrestled that title away.
Steelers owner Dan Rooney often attributed the Steelers' widespread support to Pittsburgh's difficult economic times in the 1970s, when failing heavy industries there forced many in western Pennsylvania to seek employment elsewhere.
They simply took their love for the team with them.
The NFL's top sellers in merchandise nationally, from April 1 to Oct 29:
1. » Pittsburgh Steelers
2. » Minnesota Vikings
3. » Dallas Cowboys
4. » Chicago Bears
5. » New York Giants
6. » New England Patriots
7. » Philadelphia Eagles
8. » Denver Broncos
9. » Green Bay Packers
10. » San Francisco 49ers