Ladies show support for Steelers

If you didn't know better you would have thought it was a game night, with an enthusiastic group arriving early to tailgate and sporting their black and gold as they descended upon Heinz Field for the annual Steelers Ladies Night Out, presented by UPMC Cancer Centers.

Around 400 ladies, wearing Steelers jerseys, sweatshirts, t-shirts, scarves, hats and even somehow Terrible Towels, gathered for dinner and getting to know each other, before things really kicked into overdrive.

The evening started off strong with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders sharing what it's been like for him since being drafted by the Steelers last year and then answering questions from the ladies, from the technical football questions, to the personal ones and the fun ones – including those who asked  him to do a touchdown dance, and he obliged.

Sanders talked about the play-calling, onside kicks and even shared his pregame ritual, which definitely entertained the ladies.

"I wake up at nine, my dad cooks breakfast and then I go to the facility," said Sanders. "I lay my jersey out, lay my pants out. Then I walk around my jersey and say. 'Oh, when I get in you tonight, I'm going to show up tonight.' That is what I do. I talk to my jersey."

One question Sanders didn't divulge an answer for was what is said in the locker room when they are down at halftime.  

"I really can't say what we say in the locker room," said Sanders with a sheepish smile. "The words we say in there, I can't say. But we are mad and trying to make the necessary corrections. But no matter how much we are down, we have that positive aura and that is why we win so much."

Afterwards he was amazed by the knowledge the ladies had.

"It meant a lot to see all of these ladies come out and ask questions because they understand football, it's beautiful," said Sanders. "They are diehard football fans and I love it. I love that they know football that well and love their team that much."

Linebacker James Farrior then took center stage, providing insight from a 14-year veteran, including answering questions about the defense being called old, the pass defense and even one about his plans after he retires.

"I definitely plan on retiring a Steeler," said Farrior. "There is no other place I would play. I played long enough where I have fulfilled all of my dreams and this is the place I want to be when I retire. As far as retirement I am not sure, but I hope I still have a couple of good years left in me."

Farrior also held back on answering when one lady asked what Coach Mike Tomlin says to the players at halftime since he always has the same expression whether they are winning or losing.

"He shows a lot more emotion in the locker room," said Farrior. "Depending on how we are doing, you know how the conversation is going. I don't want to get into the details of that. He is a very emotional guy and a great competitor."

Before he finished, Farrior was asked what it's like for him to run out of the tunnel during player introductions.

"It gives me a rush, the energy I feel when I come out of that tunnel is something I can't describe," said Farrior. "It gets me so amped up and ready to play. I think it does the same for all of the guys. We come out there and want to put a show on for you guys."

Farrior was also impressed by the fans knowledge, but after being with the Steelers for 10 seasons, it didn't come as a surprise to him.

"We have a great following of fans, especially the lady fans," said Farrior. "That is what puts us over the hump. We have a lot of female fans that know a lot about football. They come out and support us as much as the men.

"Being here this long it doesn't amaze me anymore. I thought it was crazy at first, but being here for so long I am used to them being so knowledgeable."

After hearing from the players the ladies headed off to the taping of the PNC Steelers Huddle Show hosted by Ryan Clark and enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of Heinz Field, complete with seeing the locker room, press box and having the opportunity to head to field level where they kicked field goals.

"I love everything about it, the food, I love seeing the players," said Barb Hatton from Conneaut Lake, Pa., a regular at the event. "I like the locker room. I like it all. It's hard to pick one thing. It's nice to get on the field to see it from that level. I like the locker room to get that personal tidbit. You like hearing them talk because it's personal and geared for the women. It's nice getting the personal feeling from them when they are talking. I think women like to know the person. That is why we enjoy this.

"I also love seeing the ladies dressed up, the enthusiasm and the questions. We are kindred spirits. There are so many women here who love football."

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