As David Bogo stood on the sidelines at Acrisure Stadium, just a few hours before the Steelers were taking on the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, he was nothing but smiles.
He was enjoying the excitement of being up close and personal with the team, enjoying it along with his father, two daughters, and granddaughter, all of them decked out in Steelers gear from head to toe.
He thought he was there because he was randomly chosen as a season ticket holder to have pregame field access.
But he was there for a lot more.
As his family posed for a picture on the field, tight end Pat Freiermuth came from behind and stepped into the shot and gave Bogo the surprise of a lifetime, sharing with him that he was selected as the 2023 Steelers Fan of the Year.
His reaction was priceless. He stared at Freiermuth in shock, barely able to utter anything other than thank you as he was handed a custom jersey and presented with tickets to Super Bowl LVII.
"I don't even know what's going on," said Bogo. "Are you sure you got the right person? I don't know man. This is crazy.
"I don't even know what that means."
He soon found out.
All 32 teams select a Fan of the Year with each one attending Super Bowl LVII in Las Vegas as the guest of the NFL. One winner is selected, which includes fan voting, to be the NFL Fan of the Year.
And Bogo is representing the black and gold proudly.
"I don't think they got it right. I don't think I'm the guy for that," said Bogo. "I'm just a good fan. I just like the Steelers. So, this is a little crazy.
"It's a bit overwhelming for me. I'm not the guy that likes attention like that. So, I'm not used to it, but it's awesome. I'm a little off right now, but I am so excited."
Bogo is a lifelong Steelers fan, something passed down to him from his father, who became a fan in the 1970s after moving from Italy to Pittsburgh.
"He came over from Italy in the early seventies, late sixties, right when the Steelers took off," said Bogo. "He moved here to Pittsburgh and then became a Steelers fan because of the runs, the Super Bowls, and all that stuff. And then when I was born and he just kind of passed it down. I passed it down to my daughter, who is a diehard, crazy person, and then my granddaughter, who is amazing."
Bogo's life took him on some distant travels when he was in the U.S. Army as an Army Police Officer, and after that as a senior security consultant, including time in Iraq and Afghanistan post September 11 attacks. While he was away from the people and things he loved the most, he always remained close to them, especially his family and Steelers football.
"Steelers football was so helpful when I was away. I always brought a Terrible Towel with me. This is one of them that I brought with me, and I wrote on it wherever I was for big games," said Bogo, proudly holding up the Terrible Towel that did look like it had seen better days. "I have where I was for playoff games, Super Bowl, big wins.
"When we were over there later on, when there was internet, I would get up early and call my daughters and they would point the webcam at home onto the television and I would try to watch the game with them, to try to do that. Steelers football is more of a homey thing for me, a family thing."
Steelers football is so much of a 'homey thing,' that it actually brought Bogo back to his roots in Pittsburgh.
After his deployment, and working as a reserve deputy sheriff, he continued his work in the security industry in Denver, Colorado, where the family would settle.
But his heart was always in Pittsburgh, always with the Steelers. Each fall the family would take a trip to Pittsburgh for a Steelers game, the love for the team growing with each visit.
"Every year we went on vacation, instead of in the summer it would be in the fall we would try to marry up the Penguins game on a Saturday night and a Steelers game on Sunday because they like the Pens too," said Bogo. "That's what we did. It was something that everybody was excited for. We knew we were going to go down to the Strip District because we're Italian and get a lot of good Italian food. I'd give them an allowance to go buy whatever Steelers stuff they wanted and just have a good long weekend with everybody, see some Steelers football, enjoy Pittsburgh and all that stuff."
All the while they made the trips to Pittsburgh, Bogo's name was on the Steelers season ticket waiting list. And after 19 years of waiting, his wish came true.
The email came delivering the news.
Four season tickets were available for him to buy.
So, he did what any diehard Steelers fan would do. He quit his job in Colorado and moved to Pittsburgh.
Okay, not every diehard Steelers fan would do that. Actually, it takes a pretty unique person to do that.
But for Bogo, it was the right decision. His youngest daughter is going to the University of Pittsburgh and his oldest daughter, Giovana, was more than happy to move with her dad and young daughter to Pittsburgh, as her love of the Steelers is just as great as her dad.
"This is an interesting story," said Bogo. "My ex-wife called me because it was her email address on the account, but my name and she said, 'Hey, they just let you know that your tickets came through. And I said, 'What are you talking about?' And she said, 'Your Steelers tickets. Do you want them?' I was like, 'Yeah.' So, she put them in my email address and then I was thinking how do I get them? What do I do? I didn't know. And then I got them.
"When I got them and finally knew that they were mine, there were a little bit of tears in the house. And then my daughters are pretty happy because they knew having season tickets for me was a bucket list thing, to be back in Pittsburgh, hopefully for a long time, retire here and go to the games is what I've always wanted to do.
"Moving here, I've had a really bad couple of years, and I needed a change and I literally quit my job. I was an executive, doing corporate stuff. I was kind of done with it. I needed a change from everything. So, I literally grabbed the tickets and moved here without a job or anything and figured it out. And now, everything's working."
It was his oldest daughter, Giovana, who nominated her dad to be the Steelers Fan of the Year, not just because of his love for the Steelers, but his love and dedication to his family and country.
"My whole life, my dad's literally done everything for us to have the life that we have and he is the most selfless person I know," she said. "I'm sure people say that about their parents, I really mean it. He has done everything for me and my little sister to have the world. I had a little girl when I was in college, and he let me move back home and is helping to raise my daughter because I am by myself doing it. He takes care of her so I can go back to school and get my education, but still have her. He supports us in everything we do. I just think he deserves recognition of his own for all he's done for us.
"And watching football is something that me and dad and my daughter always bonded over. I probably know more football than most men in the world. I'm very proud to say that. I'm crazy about football and that's because of my dad. It's just something really special that we share. He quit his job in July because it was our turn on the season ticket list to move here to have season tickets because he's been waiting for so long.
"This means more than you could imagine. Growing up, he was in and out because he was serving our country. A lot of times he will say he is upset that I wasn't there when you guys were kids, but it was for a good reason because he was protecting everyone else in the country. I think that's so important. I have so much respect for him because of that. I'm thankful he's still here. You have some people who obviously didn't make it. I'm just really blessed and thankful that I got to grow up with a dad that took the initiative to serve our country and protect us all so that we could live day to day life like we do."
And for the Bogo family, day to day life now is so much different. It's in a city they love, surrounded by so much they love.
"Seeing my dad this happy, it's probably one of the most amazing things ever," she said of going to game together now. "He's had a lot of tough experiences in his life and just to see him not have to think about anything and just have pure joy is something that I always wished I could see and now that I can see that, it's pretty awesome.
"I've literally prayed for this for him I don't even know how long. And now that we're living it, it's just honestly, like dreams do come true."
And it is a dream come true. As Bogo stared around the stadium taking it all in, trying to process what happened to him, his eyes locked on the fifth level in a far corner.
"Those are our seats up there," said Bogo, pointing high up. "We are in the far corner, second row from the top, on the very end. And I love that. Those are our seats. It's awesome. We have seats in the stadium, and I can see everything and it's all good."