Steelers rock the night on the runway

Game day is still a few days away, but on Friday night at Stage AE the black and gold was flowing, the energy was at a fever pitch and Terrible Towels were waving wildly.

It might not have been football front and center, but there was plenty of fun and fashion, with a football flare, on display.

Steelers players and their families hit the runway at Rock Steelers Style 2023, the team's annual fashion show. This year's theme was 'Gameday: Fashion Edition,' and from sideline gear to game day fits, everything was included.

This year's show, which was presented by Neighborhood Ford Store, PNC, UPMC, and UPMC Health Plan, had a distinctive game day feel from start to finish.

Upon arrival, guests walked the green football carpet, pausing for their moment in the spotlight with cameras snapping away.

The style lounge has become a favorite part of the night, with guests enjoying culinary delights while they were able to take in all of the latest fashions from the Steelers Pro Shop.

While fashion was the main attraction, it was all for a good cause. All proceeds benefited the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, Cancer Bridges and the Chuck Noll Foundation.

For the players, being able to mix fashion and giving back to the community is the perfect combination.

"It's one of the reasons we do what we do," said receiver Calvin Austin III. "We are blessed with this talent and platform. Giving back is one of the small things we can do. Being able to give back is something that is always important to us.

"I am not really into fashion. This comes easier for some people. I wouldn't say that is my forte, but it's fun. I like that all the guys are here, the families. It's an event outside of football, something different, we are around each other, hanging out and just having fun."

With a backdrop of game day themed videos, from fans tailgating, to entering the stadium, to player warmups with Wiz Khalifa's hit 'Black and Yellow' playing, to the 'Who Ride, We Ride' defensive pregame pump-up, there was no shortage of feeling like game mode was on.

And everyone brought that energy.

Photos from Rock Steelers Style benefiting UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, Cancer Bridges, and the Chuck Noll Foundation

The show, which is estimated to be in its 55th season, was co-chaired by Art and Greta Rooney and Mike and Kiya Tomlin.

"The theme is gameday, here we go," said Greta Rooney. "Kiya and I have been doing this for 16 years, and we try to keep the theme the same every year, which is bringing the players off the field, seeing their personalities and their own style.

"I love it. I love seeing them walking in with their wives, enjoying the night with the fans, their family. And thanks to our sponsors, celebrating a good evening."

Running back Najee Harris and linebacker Alex Highsmith the co-captains, didn't disappoint.

"It's cool. I am excited to be able to be a co-captain for the event," said Highsmith. "I feel like I have a little bit of fashion. I am not in the top. I am close to the top, but not in the top. We have some guys that dress really nice on this team, guys like Levi (Wallace), Larry (Ogunjobi).

"I am just excited to be a part of this event for a great cause. It's so important. Being able to give back to the community is huge. Being a part of that means a lot. We've been given this platform to make an impact and give back. That is what it is all about."

Harris gave himself props when it comes to best dressed, but his style isn't one that is defined with just one word by any means.

"My style ranges from anywhere," said Harris. "I come looking like sometimes a rock star, sometimes I come looking like the 80s, sometimes looking like Dracula. It ranges everywhere. I'm unmatchable when it comes to dressing."

Linebacker Elandon Roberts was a newcomer to the fashion show, but not a newcomer when it comes to stepping out in style.

"I think it's fun to do it, especially with your family," said Roberts. "Helping out the Pittsburgh community, while doing something like this with your kids and family enjoying it. We stay locked in a lot during the season, and we are still locked in, but it's a fun experience. I have never done it before and like it."

After welcomes from Art and Greta Rooney and Coach Tomlin, it was time to get down to some serious fashion business.

The players took the stage in one of the fashions everyone is accustomed to seeing them in, their game jerseys. But it was all about showing off their unique personalities, as they chose their own walkout songs and brought a bit of swag with them as they walked the runway, tossing giveaways to the crowd along the way.

Fashions by Kiya Tomlin are always a highlight of the show, and once again her designs didn't disappoint. Models dazzled in her unique designs that earned her the title of Best Fashion Designer in Pittsburgh in the Pittsburgh CityPaper's 2023 Reader's Poll.

"To see the players interacting with their families and to see my husband kind of getting them riled up and egging them on so they can go out on the stage and put on a good show for the fans is great," said Kiya Tomlin, who wasn't able to attend the show. "Also, seeing how the fashion, the NFL, the Steelers fashion integrates into high fashion thanks to the donations from the local boutiques that give us the designer gear to mix and match and show how you can integrate these pieces into an everyday wardrobe."

A new twist to her line this year is the 'Coach T Collection,' featuring some of the well-known 'Tomlinisms' that have become synonymous with her husband. A video featured many of the best-known sayings, including of course 'The Standard is The Standard,' and players modeled the shirts, with a fun t-shirt giveaway capping it all off.

"After all these years of people kind of referencing and talking about the way Mike speaks and coining them the Tomlinisms, we're embracing it this year," said Kiya Tomlin. "We've got a fun segment that focuses on the Tomlinisms."

What would a game day be without a halftime performance and that came from music and viral sensation Paul Russell, who performed his hit 'Lil Boo Thang,' with the crowd loving every minute of it. Russell, who recently signed with Arista, originally performed the video on TikTok and Instagram, with tens of millions of views on the platforms.

Once the second half kicked off, rookies took the stage in custom suits designed by Surmesur, suits the players had a huge input in designing. From fittings during training camp and the preseason to when they picked out everything from the pattern to the cut, it was a personalized experience and it showed on the runway.

"I feel like I have one of the best suits," said Joey Porter Jr. "I am happy to show everybody what I had going on and bring some fun to it.

"It was fun picking the suit. Everybody I was working with understood what I was going for and the scheme and I think we put the suit together nice."

Family was front and center next with the Steelers locker room a big family affair. The brother tandems of Cameron and Connor Heyward and Nate and Nick Herbig took the stage together, and there was also a father-son moment featuring Joey Porter Sr. and Joey Porter Jr.

"I know my mom will get a kick out of it and probably get a picture or two," said Cameron Heyward. "We took a couple of pictures on team photo day. It's fun to still raze your little brother and tell him he still looks ugly in a suit or a jersey."

Big brother did make it clear though who has the best fashion sense.

"Me," said Heyward. "He knows that."

When it comes to the Porter household, doing the fashion show is part of the family history.

"I know I did the show when my dad played," said Porter Jr. "I don't remember much of it, but I know my mom had pictures of it at the house."

And speaking of the house, the finale brought down the house when players and their families dazzled in their formal attire, with the kids always stealing the shows.

And it was Patrick Peterson's daughters, Paityn and Parker, that sealed the deal for them winning the Family Swag Award, while receiver Allen Robinson II was the Player Swag Award.

With confetti flying and Terrible Towels waving, the evening came to a perfectly fashionable ending.

Photos from the green carpet at Rock Steelers Style