Talking Steelers Football with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke RavenstahlPittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl grew up on Pittsburgh's North Side and was a Steelers fan from the get-go.
Ravenstahl, who took over as Mayor in 2006 following the death of Mayor Bob O'Connor, was then elected to the office in November, 2007. At 28-years old he is the youngest mayor of any major U.S. city.
He has a passion for the city he serves and knows that the Steelers are a big part of that city.
Ravenstahl took time out recently to talk with Teresa Varley for Talking Steelers Football
How old were you when you got your first taste of Steelers football?
I can remember as far back as grade school when I started playing football. I followed the Steelers then. From that point forward I was a Steelers fan for life. It's really hard to explain the devotion Steelers fans have. We understand it as Pittsburghers. It's in your blood. If you grow up here you have no choice but to be a Steelers fan.
Did you have a favorite player growing up?
I didn't. It's hard for me to put my finger on one player. In my early teens when I really started to get to know about the Steelers it wasn't their best of times. If there was anybody, Coach (Bill) Cowher when he became the coach was somebody who started to right the ship. From there we have been successful ever since. My first days following the Steelers were in the late 80s and early 90s when they weren't winning like they are today. The Coach Cowher era is really what I would relate to as the beginning of my love for the Steelers.
When you hear the name Steelers, what is the first thought that comes to mind?
The Rooney Family.
Is there a current player you enjoy watching, a player who you respect the way they play the game?
Hines Ward is somebody whose attitude is synonymous with Pittsburgh. He has the passion and desire to do everything it takes to win and does it every Sunday. At the same time we all know that Hines Ward smile. We know he is having a great time. His approach to the game is one I appreciate the most of any Steelers player.
What has head coach Mike Tomlin meant to this team?
He has meant a breath of fresh of air. Being a young coach is something that is important for the players to relate to. Myself as a younger mayor I appreciate some of the things he has to go through as a young head coach. In his first year he showed he was able to bring the pride back to the Steelers and bring the energy to the sidelines.
What are your expectations for the 2008 season for the team?
My expectations are a hard working team that goes out and competes every Sunday. There are some questions marks because of the changes that were made in the offseason. I am confident Coach Tomlin will have the team ready. We should expect to at least make the playoffs this year and who knows what will happen from there.
What do the Steelers mean to city from a business standpoint?
It's hard to put your finger on what that means. From my limited experience dealing with people from other cities and countries … for example I was in Europe earlier this year and you mention Pittsburgh and the first thing people identify with are the Steelers. If there is anything people from outside of the area identify with a lot of times it is the Steelers. That has a remarkable impact on our economy and really the image of Pittsburgh and what it means to be from this city.
What does the team mean to the Pittsburgh community?
That is one of the main reasons the city has the love for the Steelers they do. On any given week they can see the Steelers, whether it's at a charity event, they are signing autographs to raise money for a good cause, or at a fund-raiser they are participating in. The visibility of the organization, and particularly the players, has allowed the Steelers to be viewed so highly in the minds of so many in the community. I think it's been critically important to the success the organization has realized.
If you had to select one current Steelers player to be your Chief of Staff, who would it be?
I am going to say Heath Miller. He seems like an even-keeled kind of guy, he is extremely intelligent and he would fit the role.
What current Steelers player do you think would be good handling public relations for the city?
Let's go with Max Starks. He is a great communicator from what I have seen in his experience with the media. His ability to communicate a message on behalf of Pittsburgh would fit the role.