In case the Steelers thrilling, come-from-behind victory wasn't enough excitement for Steelers fans on Sunday, the team's 'Thank You Fans' game delivered some amazing experiences and prizes to fans and Steelers Nation Unite members as part of the recognition for the greatest fans in the world.
Fans who are members of Steelers Nation Unite, the team's free loyalty program, were recognized and rewarded in a variety of ways on Sunday afternoon. The activities started with a special meet-and-greet for members prior to gates opening, where they got to be on the field and in the Steelers tunnel for a fun photo opportunity.
Once gates opened, all fans who entered received a scratch-off card with a guaranteed prize, courtesy of Steelers Nation Unite. For a select group of members, pregame was all the more special with on-field access for warm-ups and participation in different events – including the Terrible Towel Twirl, Players Tunnel and being stage front for the pregame performance by Wiz Khalifa.
Graham and Stephen Swanson, who hail from London, were among the members on the field who formed the Players Tunnel during introductions. For Stephen, it was surprise that Graham set-up with the help of Steelers Nation Unite. To say the least, they were more than excited to be part of the game day festivities.
"My dad's been a fan since he visited the U.S. in the late 70s. So I got in touch with the Steelers to see what they could do to help us out and they've put on a great experience for us," said Graham, who kept the entire thing a secret until they were actually walking down to the field.
"He told me to sign the waiver and he said "Do you trust me?" He covered up the paper and I said "I trust you," and I signed the waiver. I didn't know what it was until we were walking down here. It was a big surprise to me," said Stephen. "It was fantastic. This has been a fantastic time."
Another group of members were on the sidelines to lead the Terrible Towel Twirl at kickoff with Khalifa and another Pittsburgh-native, Billy Gardell. As can be seen in the video below, the group had no trouble getting fired up for the game.
Gardell, who relishes every chance he gets to come back home, was as excited as anyone to be part of this special 'Thank You Fans' game.
"They gotta keep me in a cage downstairs before I get out here," said Gardell before kickoff. "I am so fired up."
Gardell also helped make the day for another lucky member of Steelers Nation Unite during the second quarter. Jeff Moll of California was told to make sure he was in his seat during the first half, as Steelers Nation Unite had a special surprise for him. One can imagine his reaction when Gardell showed up and announced live in the stadium that Moll had been selected to receive a new Steelers fan cave, which included a 50-inch flat screen TV, a Steelers recliner, Le'Veon Bell Fathead and $250 in Steelers gift cards.
At halftime, 3 teams of Steelers nation Unite members competed in halftime competition, with a trip to the 2016 NFL Draft on the line. Brian Ritter and Karen Kreiger outdueled the other teams, with Kreiger clinching the win by finishing first in the sphere race.
With the Steelers finishing off the thrilling comeback late in the fourth quarter, it was then onto postgame field access, where 50 members of Steelers Nation Unite drew envelopes on the field with the name of a current Steelers player in it. The prize? A football signed by that current Steeler. It was a fun way to cap off the final regular-season home game of 2015.
The recognition is not contained to just the stadium, though. This week, 50 Steelers Nation Unite members will be surprised with signed footballs in the mail. It's just another way Steelers Nation Unite is committed to recognizing and rewarding the best fans in the world all year long.
To join Steelers Nation Unite for free, visit SteelersNationUnite.com. All new members get exclusive access to the team year-round, 20% off their first purchase at shop.steelers.com and free shipping all season long.
Plus, members can enter now through Jan. 11, 2016, for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to meet Billy Gardell and see a live taping of his CBS show, Mike & Molly. Join today and don't miss out on any more chances to get rewarded for your loyalty to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Photos of Steelers Nation Unite members enjoying game day experiences as part of the team's 'Thank You Fans' game during Week 15 of the 2015 season.