The Steelers don't take the field until Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, but the excitement in Pittsburgh started to build on Friday night when Darius Rucker got things rolling at the Steelers Kickoff Concert at Stage AE.
Rucker, the former lead singer for Hootie & the Blowfish, entertained the crowd with his country hits, including songs from True Believers, which was released in May.
"His music is awesome," said kicker Shaun Suisham, who attended the concert with his wife Erin and sister Meagan and had a chance to meet Rucker beforehand. "It's a really cool opportunity. Selfishly for me I get to be involved in all of this fun. Sunday is a work day for me, but to be able to hang out and listen to some great music is awesome. It was great to meet him. It's been a great night."
Suisham and receiver Emmanuel Sanders gave Rucker some Steelers apparel and also helped present him with a Steelers "Rucker" jersey before the show.
"For me football means so much," said Rucker. "Just to be asked to come in and do something like this for a class organization like the Steelers and the Rooney family was awesome. For me to meet the players and them be here with their families, that is awesome too."
And in true football fashion, Heinz Field made a perfect backdrop for the outdoor show.
"That is the coolest thing of all, being able to play in the shadow of one of the best stadiums in the country for one of the classiest organizations," said Rucker. "I was talking about the Steelers and how loyal the Rooneys are to their coaches and players. You don't find that a lot in professional sports. I am honored to be here."
Sanders enjoyed the music and was thrilled to bring his uncle Josh, who he referred to as a "cowboy," to the concert. He hopes the excitement at Stage AE carries over to the crowd at Heinz Field on Sunday.
"This really allowed the fans to start getting energetic for Sunday's game," said Sanders. "It's a perfect way to kick off the weekend. Hopefully the fans will bring all of the energy with them to Heinz Field on Sunday and it will be packed and full of excitement."