Steelers' fans are accustomed to seeing players in their game day attire, jerseys and shoulder pads, helmets and cleats. But on Friday night they showed off a completely different style at the annual Steelers Style Fashion Show at the East Club Lounge at Heinz Field.
"It's fun to do it with all of our teammates," said linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who co-captained the show with receiver Antonio Brown. "Everyone has a good time and it's for a great cause, so that makes it even better. I am always willing to do something to help out charities."
Art and Greta Rooney and Mike and Kiya Tomlin chaired the show, which benefited the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and the Cancer Caring Center.
"Steelers fans have been supporting this for many years and we have some great charities that benefit from this," said Art Rooney II. "I want to thank all of our players for taking time out on their night off to be with us tonight. We have a big group here tonight."
Players and their families modeled fashions from American Eagle Outfitters, NIKE, Moda Pittsburgh, Michael Kors, Robert Graham, Nordstrom and Kiya Tomlin, who has her own custom couture designs and had an extensive line in this year's show.
Tomlin had designed dresses for the show in the past, many with the Steelers logo on them. This year's show was labeled Steelers Nation Black & Gold Style, and while the logo might not have been there, the team colors were.
"It's a little tricky to design a Steelers-themed dress," said Kiya Tomlin, who designed Greta Rooney's dress as well as one for her niece Brynn Williams, who performed the National Anthem. "Usually I start with the fabric inspiration. This year it was nice to branch out with the theme being black and gold and not have to incorporate the actual logo into the gowns like I usually do."
The show started off with a bang, with the University of Pittsburgh dance team and cheerleaders and the Pittsburgh Steeline setting the stage and firing up the crowd. It was then all about the players as they hit the runway, many with their kids, in their jerseys dancing and having fun to their own musical selections. Among the choices were Ben Roethlisberger and his son Ben to "Just the Two of Us," by Will Smith, Shaun Suisham to his country's National Anthem "O Canada," and Bruce Gradkowski and daughter Liliana to the Temptations "My Girl."
"It's really exciting to have this opportunity to share this with my wife (Miranda) and our daughter," said Gradkowski, who did the formal scene with the whole family. "Even when I was picking the song I kind of got choked up. It's awesome to get our families together and the team with the fans. It's a good time and it's for a great cause."
Black and gold style again took center stage with the "Throwback" scene and in the spirit of it Kiya Tomlin designed several pieces using material from the team's 1934 throwback uniforms, including a dress worn by her daughter Harlyn.
The "Street Style: Black & Gold" scenes featured many of the the designers showing the hot and fashion-forward ways to sport team colors.
"It's fun and a great chance to hang out with our teammates in a casual setting for a good cause," said Brown. "We get to have a lot of fun. I like coming out with my son (Antonio) and have him come out there and wear some nice clothes. It's a great chance to spend time together."
The show came to an amazing end with the Suit & Tie scene, as rookies worked the runway styled by Tuxedo Junction, and the veterans, many accompanied by their families, wearing their own personal custom designs.
Just like the football field the runway got a little competitive, with guys trying their best to win the coveted "Swag Award." Well, at least most guys.
"I am not fashionable at all," said offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum. "I can dress for church, but when it comes to putting different colors together and all of that, I am not good at that. I have no dressing skills."
Fellow offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, who hit the runway with his twin brother, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, had other thoughts.
"I planned to win the award this year," said Pouncey, who is out for the season with an ACL injury. "My style is swagger, young and crazy. I even wore my brace for some sympathy votes."
In the end, the "Swag Award," voted by Tomlin, Timmons and Brown, was presented to receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who rocked the runway all night. Jerricho Cotchery's kids, Jacey, Joshua, Nicholas and Journey, took the honors for the junior "Swag Award."
"I believe if you look good, you feel good," said Brown. "It all translates. I think we all need a little work at times, but collectively we all do a good job."