When you talk about NFL team colors, pink is one color that never really gets mentioned. That was until this past October, when the Steelers and other NFL teams took to the field in pink cleats and gloves, while wearing hats and pins on the sidelines in support of breast cancer awareness month.
But it wasn't just the players who sported the pink with their black and gold. The fans did as well and merchandise flew off the shelves in the team's Sideline Stores and was sold out on the website as soon as things arrived.
The Pittsburgh Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure benefitted from the popularity of items such as Steelers pink ribbon t-shirts, hats, pins and even pink Terrible Towels when team President Art Rooney, II presented them with a check from the proceeds totaling $26,543.87.
"It's just very exciting," said Kathy Purcell, executive director of the Pittsburgh Affiliate. "I think that sometimes people complain that pink is overused for us. That is never the case. I always have the sense that if those pink things remind one person to get a mammogram then we may have saved a life. I just think it's invaluable in terms of awareness and reminding women. It's also wonderful for breast cancer survivors that see a game and to know there is support behind them. It's a great feeling.
"Those big guys are wearing pink and it's so exciting. It's so nice to feel that support. We are lucky in the Pittsburgh area to get that support from the community."
The Steelers wore the pink items in their game against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field, but some players continued to sport the pink after that to continue showing their support. And the fans jumped right on board. "It was amazing the way the fans responded to it," said Rooney. "It started with our players. They loved it and enjoyed wearing it and that inspired the fans even more to get behind it. We kind of underestimated what the demand was going to be. It was a great success, a great program and we were excited to be a part of it.
"Some of our players kept wearing it even after the games you were supposed to wear it. It was nice to see how they got involved. It became something the whole community got involved in and that is always great to see."
The Pittsburgh Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure issued $1.75 million in local grants in the past year, the largest local grant they have been able to make, thanks in part to community wide efforts including the Steelers involvement.
"That money is being used in the community to help women and it's extremely important to us," said Purcell. "To know that people care and they are able to reach out. In today's economy for that support to still be there and evident is heartwarming to us.
"The Steelers organization is part of what makes Pittsburgh. We see it as the community effort of them being behind us and supporting what we do."