Offseason Program

Bringing the family together

They might not have played alongside each other, they might come from different backgrounds and different worlds.

But they share a common bond. A bond that can never be broken.

They all wore the black and gold for the Steelers so when they are together, they are one, they are family.

That was exactly the case on Thursday during the team's OTA practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex when a group of Steelers alumni attended practice as guests of the team as part of the continued outreach to alumni.

"It's another way for all of us to connect, the players from the different generations," said Arthur Moats, who played from 2014-17 and is still active with the team as part of the SNR broadcast group. "We all have that Steelers tie. We are able to share different stories. For me seeing some of my former teammates is a good time.

"I think it's awesome they do this. Even though you are not currently on the team, it shows you are a part of that Steelers family. That is the one thing they preach when you sign here, that it's a family. That starts with Mr. (Art) Rooney (II). They care about you as a person. For them to invite you back, it shows they care about you. Not just in season, but during an OTA practice when you can connect with people."

This is the second time the team had a group of alumni come to an OTA practice, something that Assistant Head Coach John Mitchell got going last year when he assumed his new role. The group included local players from the 1970s and beyond, including those like Moats who were much more recent.

"It's a two way street," said Mitchell. "I get a lot of joy seeing these guys, the guys who laid the groundwork, made it possible for me to be here as a coach. They get a lot of joy coming back and seeing some of the guys they played with, haven't seen in a while. We both get enjoyment out of it.

"Every day I come to work and see those six Super Bowl trophies. Thank God I have my name on two of them. But to see those four prior to getting the other two, and knowing these guys made it possible and the things they did brings tears to my eyes and chills down my back every time I see them."

For Derek Moye, who was with the team for one season in 2013, the invite was a pleasant surprise.

"It's very cool to be back," said Moye, who was just hired as the head football coach at Western Beaver High School. "To see all of the guys playing. It brings back some memories for me. It's always good to come out and see this type of athlete at this type of level.

"I think it's great. I was surprised when I got the email. I wanted to jump at the opportunity to come here. I love and enjoy football. To have the opportunity to see some of the guys I played with and some of the younger guys is great."

Coach Mike Tomlin is a huge fan of having the alumni come back and enjoys visiting with them, as well as having the young players spend time talking to them.

"It is easy for me," said Tomlin. "Not only am I interested in honoring those guys for their contributions as Steelers, but also their contributions as members of this community, the things they have done post-career.

"It provides an awesome mentoring experience for our current players. They can share stories about their playing days and provide some perspective of the challenges the players face. They are also good examples of life after football and they need that mentorship as well."