It was just a few hours before their final preseason game but the atmosphere at the annual Steelers Kickoff Luncheon, which was held at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown on Thursday, definitely had a regular season feel to it.
"It's the kickoff of the season," said defensive end Brett Keisel, who is happy to be back and a part of the excitement. "It lets you know that the regular season games are just around the corner. It's a chance for us to thank our sponsors, our fans, who give us so much support.
Photos of the 2014 Kickoff Luncheon at the Wyndham Grand Hotel.
"The enthusiasm they show at it really gets us all pumped up and ready for the season."
Steelers' alumni Randy Grossman, Gerry Mullins and JT Thomas, all members of the Steelers Super Bowl IX team that is celebrating the 40th anniversary this year, mingled with guests and signed autographs for the fans beforehand. And then it was time for the 2014 Steelers to be introduced, to a more than warm welcome from the crowd.
Steelers' President Art Rooney II, thanked those in attendance for their continued support, and thanked the Allegheny Conference on Community Development for hosting the event.
"Thank you for helping us kick off the 2014 season," said Rooney, who was pleased to see black and gold in the crowd. "Wearing black and gold is important. Don't forget to wear it on Fridays to work before our games and I look forward to seeing you at Heinz Field this season."
Coach Mike Tomlin assured the crowd that the team's goals are simple, and that is bringing a Super Bowl championship to the city.
"I share Art's excitement about the start of the 2014 season," said Tomlin. "We look forward to kicking it off. These young men up here have worked extremely hard and are excited about representing you, our community and our fans in our pursuit of our goals this year. They remain unchanged. It's our desire to be world champs this year. We are excited about getting started and we appreciate your support."
It was then on to the player introductions, with the guests making every player feel welcome, from rookies, to newcomers to long-time veterans.
"This is good for the young guys to see how great our fans are," said cornerback Cortez Allen. "I have always said that we have the best fans anywhere, and for as long as I live I will stick by that. Steelers fans are everywhere, if you leave the country you even run into them."
Center Maurkice Pouncey agreed, noting it was nice to be able to say thanks back to the fans who give them so much support.
"It's a nice event," said Pouncey. "We go out here and see some of the fans. It's awesome to go out there and show some appreciation for the fans."