There is nothing that can replace the joy, the fun, or the excitement of being at Heinz Field for Steelers fans. But with fans not permitted for the Broncos game last week and the Texans game this week, the Steelers are creating opportunities intended to bring some of the Heinz Field experience to them.
Steelers season ticket holders and suite holders had the opportunity to enter to win a Virtual Sideline Experience for the Steelers-Broncos pregame, as well as it was offered as a benefit through Steelers Nation Unite, and the same experience is also taking place for Sunday's game against the Texans, where you might even get to see the Watt brothers unite pregame.
Fans joined a zoom call on Sunday and were able to watch the Steelers during pregame warmups before their 26-21 win over the Broncos, something that might not have replaced the game experience, but definitely brought it closer to home.
"It was awesome," said Todd Nadritch, who is from Webster, New York and has been a season ticket holder since 2017 after being on the waiting list for 20 years. "I have been doing the Men's Fantasy Camp for so many years. One of the things I got for going so many times was the opportunity to be on the sidelines before a game, so I have been there before. Virtually, it's not the same, but it brought back so many great memories. You are right there. You can see everything. You can watch them go through it. I could hear what was happening on the field. Coach Jerry Olsavsky walked by a few times and said, we can't hear you, cheer more. We were all waving our Terrible Towels then.
"Any time you get to do something like that, even if not in person, you feel like you are interacting with the team."
Nadritch won the opportunity to be a part of the Virtual Sideline after being named the Season Ticket Holder of the Week, one of the benefits that comes with the honor.
"To me, that is one of the most amazing things about the Steelers organization," said Nadritch, who watched with his wife and sons. "I can't describe the feeling that my team I have been a fan of for so many years reaches out to me."
Steelers players said after the game they missed having the fans in the seats, that it wasn't the same without Steelers Nation there.
The fans felt the same way but were thrilled to get a sneak peek at things.
"Nothing replaces game day," said George Herbert, who lives in Avon, Ohio but is originally from Burgettstown, Pa. "I have been going to games since my mother started taking me in 1980. It's strange not being at the stadium in September at a game.
"But it was neat to watch, even though it was strange not seeing anyone in the stands. It has to be tough for everyone in the organization, the players, coaches, everyone. For the team, the players, it's a tough game to play. I am sure it helps to have the fans there getting them excited. There are certain times when the crowd gets louder, I am sure it's a big change for them.
"I was excited to be a part of the pregame, though. It got me in the mood to watch the game and it's great they are doing this."