NEW ORLEANS — Two NFL team flags have flown outside a Dormont, Pa., home this past football season. One salutes the Cincinnati Bengals, one the Baltimore Ravens, and no one dares to say anything about it.
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“Someone from the neighborhood said, ‘You’re the only guy I know who can fly two flags in front of your house and not get harassed,’ ” said Bruce Gradkowski, Sr., the home’s owner Wednesday as he prepared to drive to Baltimore and catch a flight to the Super Bowl.
Gradkowski’s son Bruce plays quarterback for the Bengals. Another son, Gino, is a rookie guard/center for the Ravens.
Gradkowski has the distinction of being the only Steelers fan who roots hard for two of their AFC North Division foes.
“You know that, when it comes to your son or family … playing. When Bruce got drafted, when he was in Tampa Bay, the Steelers moved to kind of second on the list. Now, they’re third.”
Gradkowski and his wife Debbie will fly to New Orleans today on a Ravens charter for the players’ families. They will be joined by about 25 others in the extended family from Pittsburgh, including cousins.
It will be the Gradkowskis’ second trip to New Orleans. They attended Bruce’s first NFL start as a rookie in 2006 for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers lost that game to the Saints; they’re hoping for better results Sunday.
The Ravens drafted Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round from Delaware, where he transferred after leaving West Virginia when Rich Rodriguez departed as coach. He played guard and center at Delaware and started all 37 games in his three-year career there.
He has played in 15 games as a backup for the Ravens, plus two in the playoffs. He returned a short kickoff for 12 yards in the regular season.
Older brother Bruce, who attended the University of Toledo, turned 30 this week and has played for four NFL teams and beat the hometown favorite Steelers at Heinz Field for the Oakland Raiders in 2009. Gino is 24.
“They’re good boys,” Bruce Sr. said. “That makes me proud. They’re two different types of guys. Bruce, the quarterback, is all the glamour. Bruce likes to dress up, flashy. Gino being the center, he can wear sweats.”
He also can wear something else soon if things go right Sunday: a Super Bowl ring.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ed Bouchette is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.