Steelers make a virtual fashion show sizzle

If you have ever been to Rock Steelers Style, the team's annual fashion show, you are well aware that it's known for being a fun, high-energy, entertaining evening featuring your favorite Steelers players.

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the show still went on, but in a much different manner.

Rock Steelers Style: Far & Wide marked the first time the team did the fashion show virtually, and despite the challenges that living in a virtual world presents, it still offered everything the show has become known for and was a hit for fans who watched it nationwide.

"It was a challenge to try to translate what we were used to doing live with the players and the access to the players to a virtual show that would keep people's interest," said Kiya Tomlin, wife of Coach Mike Tomlin, who were both co-chairs along with Steelers President Art Rooney II and his wife, Greta. "I think people are kind of zoomed out overall. To try to create something that was exciting and interesting for the viewers while not having access to the players because of the COVID restrictions, not working together as an entire team. I think that was the hardest thing. But it worked."

That it did. The show included co-captains Bud Dupree and JuJu Smith-Schuster hosting multiple segments, had players modeling fashions, including auction items from Joe Haden's closet, showcased Kiya Tomlin's Game Day Collection from her line, had high energy dancing from the Pittsburgh Poison and University of Pittsburgh dance teams and a rookie jersey scene. It even brought the fans into the action, letting them compete for the Swag Award by showing off their Steelers swag via social media.

Oh, yeah, and it also had the most epic version of Renegade you will ever see.

Putting on Rock Steelers Style, which was presented by Neighborhood Ford Store, PNC Bank and UPMC, was never in question this year despite the circumstances surrounding the pandemic because the main reason for it is to benefit two charities, the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and the Cancer Caring Center.

"This gave us the opportunity to let more people know about the charities and the work they do, and the relationship and work we have done with them," said Greta Rooney. "We wanted to keep this alive. Because of COVID more people will get to see it and understand why we do it.

"As a team we wanted them to know how committed we were to giving back and keeping it alive."

The evening also included an online auction, which is still open through Friday, Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. If you are looking for something signed by one of your favorite current or former players, now is the time. From jerseys signed by Hall of Famers like Troy Polamalu, Mel Blount and Rod Woodson or helmets signed by Joe Greene or Terry Bradshaw, to items signed by today's favorites including JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.J. Watt, it's all there.

In addition to the auction, Steelers fans who aren't able to attend a game at Heinz Field this season can purchase a fan cutout so they can still be there in spirit. The cutouts will be placed in the seats at Heinz Field for the Nov. 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The cost for the cutouts is $100 each, and all proceeds also benefit the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and Cancer Caring Center.

The show opened with a welcome from the Rooneys and Tomlins straight from the field at Heinz Field. And then it was off to the studio where Dupree and Smith-Schuster kicked off a Terrible Towel Twirl that featured Lynn Swann, Joe Greene, Bill Cowher, Kevin Greene, Franco Harris, Rod Woodson and celebrities Bret Michaels, Wiz Khalifa, Tamara Tunie and Joe Manganiello.

It was then on to the jersey scene, which normally is players walking the runway sporting their jerseys, oftentimes with their kids right along with them. This year, though, it was a mix of game day player introductions, shoots for the jumbotrom and celebratory dances that made up the scene, many of them never before seen shots to those who haven't been to Heinz Field.

Steelers' wives took centerstage showing off their game day style courtesy of fashions from the Steelers Pro Shop, while sharing their game day rituals. Allie Heyward, wife of Cameron Heyward, gave insight into how gameday begins for them, which starts with breakfast and then getting all three of their kids into their Steelers gear. Gabriella Watt, wife of Derek Watt, shared her ritual which begins with sending Derek a motivational text. While Michele Shazier said her day always begins with her 'Shazier' Steelers mug and then she goes through her closet filled with Steelers gear to decide what to wear.

Outer Stuff and the Steelers Pro Shop provided looks for the next scene, as well as the players own fashions, featuring JuJu Smith-Schuster, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield and his family, and Tyson Alualu and his family doing a Tik Tok change of clothes.

And for those looking to upgrade their own swag, Joe Haden offered the perfect solution. Haden invited the camera into his huge closet.

"At first I was worried because I know what my closet looks like," said Kiya Tomlin. "I was thinking this is not going to be a good idea. He has the dream closet. I imagine it always looks like that. It was straight out of MTV Cribs."

That it was. Haden pulled out some of his favorite Nike Air Jordan shoes and a Lebron James jersey to include in an auction of clothes from his closet, and with his style, you might want to go bid fast.

"I would have to go with Joe Haden as most fashionable on the team," said Dupree. "I say Joe Haden just because first and foremost he has a long bank account. Second because he is in Los Angeles all offseason and he is around fashion. He looks like a guy who is into fashion. He is always putting it on. He is always putting his swag to another level.

"I think my swag is real low key, laidback type. Not too much attention, but I am still getting the job done in a way. I am out of the way, but not in the way."

It was back to the field where Kiya Tomlin's Game Day Collection was featured, with models showing off incredible combinations to wear black and gold in the most stylish of ways.

For anyone who attended Rock Steelers Style in 2019, one of the highlights was a lip sync battle between Zach Banner and Terrell Edmunds. Banner was interviewed by WDVE's Bill Crawford to talk about last year's performance and a new one.

This year, lip syncing returned with an absolutely amazing version of Renegade, with current and former players joining in and former linebacker LaMarr Woodley definitely taking it to the next level. The best part of it was, the players did their own videos, just given a little direction on it.

"The biggest challenge to doing it virtually was not being hands on and not being able to help everybody personally," said Greta Rooney. "We had to hand the scene to them and ask them to make it happen and send it back. We couldn't be hands on. But I am so impressed with the response, Joe Haden opening his closet and making the auction happen. LaMarr Woodley saying I will do the Renegade video and doing it. We didn't do it. We suggested it, they made it happen. That was the challenge. But it wasn't a challenge because of the willingness of them to help out.

"They made it happen and put their real taste on it because they were directing it. We gave them the idea, but they created it."

Players dancing on the stage has always been a staple of Rock Steelers Style and that wasn't missing. This time, though, the dancing was on the field, courtesy of touchdown celebrations and pregame introductions magically meshed together.

Dupree and Smith-Schuster did a fashion show of their own, showing off the latest from the Steelers Pro Shop while judging each other's looks.

"I think you can show off your swag virtually by making sure the camera angle is always the best. The camera angle has to be the best. You have to have elite camera angles," said Dupree. "The swag has to be extra crispy. Make sure the flash on the camera is on. Show your drip a little more. There is more time. You're going to feel yourself a little more because the camera – you don't have too many people really watching you and you are kind of in your own mode."

Getting to know the rookies was the next step, with photos from them through the years and wearing their Steelers jerseys shared along with fun facts.

"It was fun," said Greta Rooney. "All the work you put into it, and to reach out and let them know the history behind the show. It's nationwide. That is why we called it far and wide."