• 63°

Steelers fan ‘punished’ for rooting

The Associated Press

NORWALK – A teacher has apologized to a fifth-grader who was ordered to sit in a corner for wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers football jersey on his school’s Cleveland Browns day.

Thursday, September 16, 1999

NORWALK – A teacher has apologized to a fifth-grader who was ordered to sit in a corner for wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers football jersey on his school’s Cleveland Browns day.

Eric Nutter expected some flak from his classmates when he showed up Friday wearing a Kordell Stewart jersey, honoring the Steelers quarterback. But when his teacher ordered the 10-year-old to turn his desk around in the back of the classroom, he was stunned.

”I had to turn around the whole time to see what was going on. I didn’t like it,” he said this week.

His teacher let him rejoin the class after he changed into a Cleveland Indians T-shirt, but Eric walked home that afternoon in tears. His mother, also a longtime Steelers fan, was furious.

At his parents request, Western Reserve Middle School Principal Thomas Turner and teacher Brent Maillard both apologized to Eric, and Maillard was reprimanded.

”We didn’t have any idea at all that he had been upset,” Turner said. ”His desk was only moved back a couple of feet, and he only had to sit sideways. But it was all in fun.”

As for the Browns, all the fans in Ohio couldn’t help them Sunday night. They lost to the Steelers, 43-O.

Wednesday night, Eric said he got a phone call from Stewart.

”He asked me how good I was doing in school and told me that if I have any more problems with his jersey that he’ll come down and help me,” Eric said.

And a Steelers spokesman said the team plans ”to do something” to support Eric, but declined to elaborate.

”It will be something nice, but it will be private between the team and the boy,” said Ron Wahl. ”We don’t want to make it into a publicity event.”