By BOB LABRIOLA
Twenty-four members of the Steelers various Super Bowl championship teams will take part in the 2009 Alumni Weekend to be held in conjunction with the game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Oct. 18.
The 2009 Alumni Weekend is the second of the two Steelers Style fundraisers held annually to benefit the UPMC Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute and the Cancer Caring Center.
Each of the Steelers' six Super Bowl championship teams will be represented at a special sold-out dinner, with a member of each team recalling his memories of that particular team and that special season.
Andy Russell will speak about Super Bowl IX; Mike Wagner about Super Bowl X; Randy Grossman about Super Bowl XIII; John Banaszak about Super Bowl XIV; and Jerome Bettis about Super Bowl XL. The Super Bowl XLIII memories will be provided via video interviews with current players, who won't be able to attend because of the game against the Browns the following day.
In addition, Frenchy Fuqua will be in attendance at the dinner to talk about the Immaculate Reception.
"It's great because you get to tell some of the older guys your stories and what you had to go through to have the success you had," said Bettis. "We know so much about their success. It's an opportunity to tell some of the older guys we had it tough, but we also did some great things as well."
What might Bettis' story entail?
"The entire experience," he said. "Being in Detroit, that was a special moment. I will never forget that as long as I live, having the Super Bowl in my hometown. That was a tremendous memory."
For the game against the Browns, the 24 former Super Bowl players and coaches – Matt Bahr, Banaszak, Bettis, Larry Brown, Bennie Cunningham, Sam Davis, Glen Edwards, Fuqua, Grossman, Reggie Harrison, Jeff Hartings, Ron Johnson, Jon Kolb, Frank Lewis, Mike Logan, Gerry Mullins, Kimo von Oelhoffen, Ray Pinney, Dan Radakovich, J.T. Thomas, Paul Uram, Wagner and Dwayne Woodruff, plus special guest Walter Abercrombie, will be honored in a pregame ceremony and then serve as honorary co-captains for the coin toss.
"It's fun. You get a chance to come back and still be a part of the organization. That's the fun part," said Bettis. "It's a family-type atmosphere. It reaffirms that it's a family for life. Just because you retired does not mean you aren't part of the organization. Them bringing you back is a special feeling, and the Steelers do a great job with that, probably more so than other teams.
"Most teams do this every 10 or 25 years," added Bettis. "The Steelers do it quite frequently. They do more alumni events than most teams do."