Some of them might have never met before Saturday night, others have a long history with each other, but either way they all share a bond, one that can never be broken and will stand the test of time.
They all wore a Steelers uniform, all took pride in playing for the black and gold, and all will forever consider themselves Pittsburgh Steelers.
“When you meet a former player, no matter what generation they played in, we are all one,” said former safety Donnie Shell, who played for the team from 1974-87. “That’s what it unique.”
Shell was one of 15 former Steelers who took part in Taste of the Steelers at Heinz Field on Saturday night, an event that benefits the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and the Cancer Caring Center and helps start the team’s Alumni Weekend. He was joined by Craig Bingham (1982-84, 87) Emil Boures (1982-86), Larry Brown (1971-84), Barry Foster (1990-94), Randy Grossman (1974-81), Delton Hall (1987-91), Bryan Hinkle (1982-93), Chris Hoke (2001-11), Gerry Mullins (1971-79), Ted Petersen (1977-83, 87), Ray Seals (1994-95), Kendall Simmons (2002-08), Dwight Stone (1987-94), and Jerrol Williams (1989-92) who first shared stories with each other and then shared stories with fans in attendance.
“It’s always great to get alumni weekend started this way and welcome our players back,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II as he welcomed the crowd. “It’s great to see all of our players back, especially some we haven’t seen in a while.”
Some players shared family photos with each other while others laughed about the fun times they had and reminisced about games.
“I am always excited getting the opportunity to see guys I haven’t in a while, talking old football stories,” said Foster. “I am excited to be here. I have so many great memories, games, teammates. I could never narrow it down to one. Once you play with these guys you form a bond that lasts a lifetime.”
Simmons hasn’t been gone too long, but couldn’t wait to bring his wife Celeste and four kids back, three who were born while he was in Pittsburgh.
“It’s definitely a good trip,” said Simmons. “My kids have been begging to come back. It’s special. Walking in the gate I asked my wife do you remember dropping me off for games, and me coming in to the locker room. It brings back memories.
“Being around the guys I miss. Talking, the things we went through in practice, not the games, but I miss being around the players.”
While Simmons hasn’t been gone for long, this was the first time Williams has been back to Pittsburgh since he finished playing and you could tell from the look in his eyes how much it meant to him.
“I can’t describe it,” said Williams. “I am overwhelmed and happy at the same time. When I first came here it looked so different. I haven’t been to Pittsburgh since the last time I played. It’s beautiful.
“I am overwhelme
d and impressed by all of it. It’s been exciting to see everyone. I am overwhelmed.”