Kickoff luncheon signals 'football is in the air'

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The regular season starts just one week from today, but fans at the annual Steelers Kickoff Luncheon, held today at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, were definitely ready for things to get rolling.

The Steelers gather at the Wyndham Grand Hotel for their annual Kickoff Luncheon.

"It's a mutual feeling of being excited and ready to go," said guard David DeCastro. "We are ready to kick it off. When you are here, you know the first game is just around the corner."

Former Steelers Chris Hoke, Mike Logan and Chukky Okobi, all members of the Steelers Super Bowl XL team that is celebrating the 10th anniversary this year, signed autographs for the fans beforehand. But it was the 2015 team that everyone was waiting to welcome, and they did so with the enthusiasm Steelers Nation is known for.

"It's always special," said tight end Heath Miller. "It signifies the start of the regular season for us. It's always a good marker for us."

Steelers' President Art Rooney II, thanked those in attendance and sponsors for their continued support, and thanked the Allegheny Conference on Community Development for hosting the luncheon, as well as wishing the University of Pittsburgh good luck as they kick off their football season this Saturday at Heinz Field.

But his main message was about Steelers' football.

"It's a great time of year. Football is in the air," said Rooney. "We are looking forward to getting the season started. We have a challenging schedule so we will need your loud support at Heinz Field."
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Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the crowd, bringing the same energy and fire that he brings to the field to the ballroom.

"It's always exciting to stand before you. I know it's time to play football," said Tomlin. "We are excited. Our focus is very clear and simple, we desire to be world champions this year. We love and appreciate the support that you guys provide us. We look forward to doing it big, and doing it big in front of you guys at Heinz Field. We are really excited about getting this thing started here about seven days from today. We appreciate you guys, we look forward to entertaining you guys, now let's go get us a world championship."

It was then time to introduce the 2015 Steelers, who will close out the preseason at Heinz Field against the Carolina Panthers and then put their focus solely on the New England Patriots.

"This was exactly what the name says, a chance to kick the season off with our fans," said cornerback Cortez Allen. "It's a beautiful experience to be able to share it with our fans and the people who support us. The things we do, the hard work we put in during camp, this is a good benchmark as far as now it's the real thing. It's something that gets us excited."

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