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Valley 49ers fans share pride, excitement, letdown

Published: Mon, February 4, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.


Juawan Gray, a Youngstown 49ers fan, reacts to a play while watching the game at Buffalo Wild Wings in Austintown on Sunday night. Gray showed up at the restaurant an hour early to “gear up” for the big game.

By Danny Restivo



While the Ravens and 49ers decided who would hoist the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans, football fans gathered around televisions in bars and family rooms to share in an annual American tradition.

At Buffalo Wild Wings in Austintown, fans threw their support behind one of the two teams for the big game. Most in the house supported the Youngstown-owned San Francisco 49ers who lost the game.

There and elsewhere throughout the Valley, the mood of the evening paralleled the movement of the scoreboard — swinging from despair to excitement to dejection when the 49ers’ come-from-behind blitz fell three points short, 34-31.

Juawan Gray of Youngstown made his allegiance evident at Buffalo Wild Wings.

“I was a 49ers fan before I was born,” said Gray.

Gray said he had been at the restaurant “gearing up for the game” one hour before kickoff,

He said living in the same city as the team’s owners was not a factor in his loyalty, but he believes they’ve made the team better.

“You have to respect what the DeBartolos and Yorks have done for the team,” he said.

Gray, who donned a 49ers baseball cap, was the most animated San Francisco fan at the bar, but he wasn’t alone.

Mike Jenoff, of Youngstown, said he was an avid Steelers fan. He said it was reason enough to cheer for the 49ers, but living in a town where the owners originated gave him more cause.

“I already hate the Ravens, but since the DeBartolos are from here, it gives the game a local element for me,” he said.

At the Ice House Inn, located along state Route 46, friends sat at the bar while eating and drinking, but split their support. James Aulet, of Sharon Pa., sported a 49ers’ jersey while his friend, Jon Steele, of Sharpsville, Pa., wore a Ravens’ T-shirt.

“We’re friends, but not very good ones tonight,” said Steele.

Steele said he had been a Ravens fan since the team left Cleveland in 1996, while Aulet said he had been a lifelong San Francisco fan. At the other end of the bar, Carson and Sharon Taylor, a married couple from Wisconsin, also split their support.

Carson was cheering for the 49ers, while Sharon was rooting for the Ravens. The couple had been traveling through the state and decided to stop near Youngstown to watch the game.

“We’re both Packers fans, but because the 49ers beat us, I have to support them,” said Sharon.

Her husband disagreed

“I got to go with Baltimore,” he said. “This night may end in a divorce.”


1whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Guy in the pic must of Lost his house , car and wife on the 49ers.

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2timOthy(802 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Glad AFC NORTH WON ! 49'Er's played good at least in the 2ND 1/2 .But I can't SUPPORT D'Bartolo at all. There's a lot of bad History with this family.During the Depression he CHEATED my family out of 75 cents on each dollar owed. He did NOT GET HIS WEATH BY BEING HONEST ! NO MATTER HOW LEGITMATE IT IS TODAY !!

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3MLC75(654 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

It was a close game,I wish the 49ers could have pulled it out.I could never cheer for the Ravens.

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4chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

TimOthy, how did Debartolo cheat your family? His construction business didn't get started until after WWII. Prior to that he worked for his step father's paving business.

Let it go.

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5chevinsea(32 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Oh come on Vindicator! There are 2 teams in the game! Of all the photos to put on the front page you picked this one?? I wish this paper would stop being so one sided! I'm just overjoyed that the "Browns" won!

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6timOthy(802 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Chuck Never !

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7redvert(2231 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

No whitesabbath, he lost his house and car but had to keep the old lady and that was just more than he could take!

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8Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Only in Ytown would they put up a statue ot a gangster in a mall he built
on the backs of others and then cheer for his families football team .

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9prodgodq(171 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Freeatlast: You should get out more.
If you think Youngstown is the only place where "gangsters" are revered, then I would suggest using the internet to find out otherwise.

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10steven134(7 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations to the Cleveland Browns who currently play their home games in Baltimore. The team that now plays in Cleveland, regardless of what you call them, are not the Browns. They are an expansion team that REPLACED the Browns.. Only the gullible fans of NE Ohio could fall for such a hoax.

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11VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

This was such an important game for myself and my family, we spent the first half at the Olive Garden enjoying a good Italian meal. By the time we got home halftime was over and then the power went out. I switched channels to America's Funniest Video's. So much for Super Bowls.

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