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Steelers fans are ready for game day

Fans aren't waiting until Sunday to get fired up for the Steelers AFC Divisional Round Game at Heinz Field, instead showing their enthusiasm on Saturday night at the Steelers Playoff Pep Rally at Stage AE.

Black and gold and Terrible Towels were everywhere, and chants of "Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go," were heard almost non-stop. And a Steelers pep rally wouldn't be complete without 'Renegade' blaring.

Steelers' alumni Rocky Bleier, Carey Davis, Alan Faneca, Franco Harris, Santonio Holmes and Willie Parker were on hand to get the crowd fired up for game day, and they did just that.

"This is part of creating that energy," said Faneca. "It's the beginning. The calm before the storm that is getting everyone riled up so when they hit Heinz Field on Sunday it's go time and everybody is charged up already.

"This gets me fired up. It puts you back in the moment. You are a fan now too, so you are right there with them."

Mikey and Bob from 96.1 KISS FM, and Steelers PA announcer Larry Richert, hosted the pep rally, bringing their fun and unique personalities to the stage as only they can. Mayor Bill Peduto and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald were on hand and the Steeline Drumline had the crowd dancing and cheering, and Thunderstruck also performed.

"The fans were already pumped up before they got here," said Parker. "But this is an additional bonus, this is a family, we need all of them. They are as important as the players on the field. I think it's part of the game and getting ready for the battle on Sunday afternoon."

The key factor for everyone, is that same enthusiasm and energy carries over to Heinz Field on Sunday, a place where the fans truly can make a difference.

"The energy the fans bring to the stadium definitely resonates with the team," said Faneca. "We always feed off of that energy. The chills and hair-raising excitement when we are coming out of that tunnel to a raucous crowd that is going nuts, it's a feeling that can't be compared to anything else, just experienced.

"One of my fondest memories of playing was coming out of the tunnel in one of my first playoff games. The crowd was going nuts. The towels were waving. I was getting those chills. I was thinking, this is what it's all about."  

Parker said he is among those who is excited for Sunday's game, and knows the fans will be a big part of it.

"Fans have a major impact," said Parker. "There is a type of electricity that runs through Heinz Field, that then runs through the players. Players don't want to disappoint the fans. They have a major impact. It makes you want to keep going. You know the fans are going to be ready. They are a major part of it. It's going to be a good environment to be around."

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