The Steelers capped off their Alumni Weekend today when the group of legends, and family members of legends, were introduced to the crowd at halftime at Acrisure Stadium.
The weekend honored the Steelers 90th season, bringing in players or family members of players and coaches, including Marianne Noll, the wife of Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Noll.
The weekend began on Friday night with a dinner, continued on Saturday with a tour of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and it concluded with the players in attendance and being honored at Sunday's game to a huge reception.
"Sometimes as a former player you wonder your worth," said linebacker Levon Kirkland, the former second-round pick who played from 1992-2000. "You wonder if people really care, if the guys on the team now will seek out your advice. But it's great to come back now and be a part of it. Quite frankly I am glad, even if it's a small part, I am a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's so special to be back and everyone has been so welcoming and great to us."
Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes has returned to Pittsburgh multiple times since his playing days ended, but he never takes for granted what it means each time, and what it meant to him to wear the black and gold.
"It's more than a dream, it's greater than a myth, it's a lasting legacy to be a part of Pittsburgh Steelers history," said Holmes. "When you talk about the heart and soul of the black and gold, you can't erase the memories and the history, and the fans will never let it die. It's the ultimate fan and player experience to be a part of Steelers Nation."
Current Steelers players spent time talking with the alumni on Saturday at the practice facility, as well as pregame, something Kirkland remembers doing during his playing time.
"When I was there you would have visits from guys like Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Joe Greene and I think that is a bridge," said Kirkland. "This is a bridge of showing how we did it in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s. It's going to be a similar mix of things, but it's always neat to know the history of it and how it's going today. I always look forward to talking to different guys and reconnecting. I am lucky and blessed I get the opportunity to come to Pittsburgh and visit.
"You learn about the history of the team from those who participated in it. When Joe Greene came in the team wasn't that great. To be able to build that team to a powerhouse is something that you learn and grow from. I always like to grow and learn. I don't ever want to be stuck in my mindset. It's always good to get that kind of insight from champions, from guys who had done it. I always enjoyed it, especially talking to guys like Ham, Tunch (Ilkin), may he rest in peace, Wolfley, Mel Blount. It was great to hear from them and talk to them."