On Christmas Eve, Betsy Sullenger, an executive producer of "Liv and Maddie," a Disney Channel television show that premieres at 8 p.m. today, would not be caught dead anywhere except a Steelers' bar, smelling like beer and cigarettes and cheering on her favorite team before heading to church with her family.
"We don't even bother to [change]. We just go black and gold," she said with a laugh.
The Steelers have never been just a football team for Ms. Sullenger. They were her childhood heroes and the subject of holiday traditions. They were the centerpiece of a parting moment with her father in the hospital, and they are a chance to bond with her son.
So it is only fitting that when Ms. Sullenger needed a last name for the twin sisters who star in her Disney Channel show, she settled on the name of the Steelers' owners, Rooney.
"The Rooney family for me doesn't just represent the Steelers. It represents so much of my family," Ms. Sullenger said.
Ms. Sullenger lived in Upper St. Clair before moving to Tennessee when she was about 10. But by the time she moved to Titans' territory, her Pittsburgh roots already were steely.
"Our parents immersed us in all things Steelers and Pirates and Penguins," Ms. Sullenger said. "My childhood hero was Franco Harris. Any time I was a part of any sport team, I had to have the number 32."
Long before her career in producing -- where she has worked on movies such as "She's the Man" starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, "You Again" with Betty White, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell, and "Parental Guidance" with Billy Crystal -- her favorite program to watch was Sunday afternoon football.
"More than anything, when I think of the Steelers, it's always been family time," Ms. Sullenger said. "Dad would put a fire in the fireplace, and the entire family would stop what they're doing and we would watch the Steelers."
Her love of Pittsburgh sports has traveled with her from the Steel City to Tennessee to Los Angeles, where she resides. When she first moved to Los Angeles approximately 20 years ago, she landed a job working for a comedy writer at Paramount.
Throughout her career, neither her success nor her travel could shake her Steelers pride. Ms. Sullenger's hometown team remained a constant presence as she worked on shows such as "Cheers," "Wings" and "Dear John."
"It is crazy to me everywhere I go how big and loyal Steelers nation is," she said. "I can walk into any bar, in any city or any state, and guaranteed that there will be as many Steelers fans in there as there are of any local teams."
After working for several years on television shows, she later made a foray into movies with Andy Fickman, who is now her partner at their production company, Oops Doughnuts.
During the years that she was making a name for herself on the West Coast, she stayed connected with her relatives through their mutual love of Pittsburgh sports.
When she is apart from her family, texts about the Steelers keep them in constant communication, and when they are able to be together in person, it is the team that dominates their conversation.
Just last year, Ms. Sullenger and her two sisters, who live in Pittsburgh and Tennessee, met at Latrobe to attend a Steelers training camp for women.
When her father was in the hospital during his final illness, the family watched a preseason Steelers game. With his family sitting around him, Ms. Sullenger's father was able to watch Rashard Mendenhall play before he passed away, which meant a lot to him as an Illinois graduate.
After working on several movies, Ms. Sullenger transitioned back into television. Like her love of the Steelers, it was natural because of its connection to family. After giving birth to her now 6-year-old son, she realized that the Disney Channel was on all day at her house and figured, "If we're going to watch it as much as we do, we may as well have a show on it."
Last summer her production company shot a pilot episode of a show with a similar cast to that of "Liv and Maddie" called "Bits and Pieces." The show was about two families merging after a recent marriage. While Ms. Sullenger is a Steelers fan, another person working on the set was a diehard Cleveland Browns fan. The two thought it would be funny if one family in the show was named the Browns and the other was named Rooney.
As time went on, Disney eventually changed the concept of the show from two different families to one with twins. Throughout the process of clearing names for the show, which can often take about 50 tries, the name Rooney prevailed.
"The Rooney name has always survived ... which of course thrills me to no end," Ms. Sullenger said.
The show is about 15-year-old identical twins, Liv and Maddie Rooney, played by Dove Cameron. Liv is a Hollywood star who has just returned to their home in Wisconsin, while Maddie is a hometown basketball player. A pilot of the show aired July 19, and the series will run on Sunday nights.
Ms. Sullenger's goal is for "Liv and Maddie" to be a Sunday family activity, much like her childhood Steelers games.
"If we can draw in even half of Steelers nation for every episode, we will be sitting pretty," Ms. Sullenger said. "They can watch the Steelers in the afternoon and then watch 'Liv and Maddie.' It's the perfect Sunday."
Monica Disare: email@example.com.