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A Letter From the Editor: The vibe surrounding the 2023 Steelers is different

When Ben Roethlisberger officially retired following the 2021 season, I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I was alive for the pre-Ben era, but Roethlisberger has been “the man” for the Steelers for 18 seasons.

What would happen next? Who would be the person to take the reigns of the Steelers offense moving forward?

The 2022 offseason saw the Steelers pick up Mitch Trubisky on the first day of the legal tampering period, and they doubled down by drafting Kenny Pickett 20th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. It was an exciting time, but the main feeling during that time, at least for me, was a sense of the unknown.

The future was now, but what was that future? No one knew.

We all know how 2022 played out, and the Steelers now enter the 2023 season with a solidified quarterback at the helm. There is no indecision from the organization at the most important position, and the fan base has the feeling the team has found their next “guy” at quarterback.

Suddenly, the indecision which surrounded the team heading into 2022 is more clear. The future which is now, seems a bit brighter. But let’s make something clear, this is about more than just the quarterback position. With Omar Khan, and the new-look front office, the Steelers have added pieces at nearly every position. The additions of players like Patrick Peterson, Darnell Washington, Isaac Seumalo and Broderick Jones have the fan base brimming with excitement.

The overall vibe heading into 2023 is night and day different from where we, the fans, were a year ago.

When it comes to training camp, the fans have shown their support in a multitude of ways. For the Friday Night Lights practice, the first time since 2019 after the 2022 practice was canceled due to weather, the fans backed the stadium to the brim.

Even at Saint Vincent College, the fans have filled the hillside, fence line, and the bleachers at Chuck Noll Field to watch their favorite team practice. Yeah, “we talkin’ ’bout practice.”

All of these are just illustrations to the fact the fan base feels the tide is turning. With the Big Ben era now completely in the rear view mirror, fans aren’t pining away for No. 7, but looking forward to the Pickett to Pickens era getting fully underway.

During the offseason I’ve been fortunate to interview several beat writers who are around the team on a daily basis on my “Let’s Ride” podcast, and I ask all of them the same question.

“Is the vibe of this 2023 team any different than in 2022?”

Every single one of them has all said without a question the vibe around the team, not the fans but the players, is completely different. There is a confidence with this team, one which didn’t truly exist last season. Don’t think the fans haven’t felt this and reciprocated the same confidence and excitement for the upcoming season.

This is the start of a new era of Pittsburgh Steelers football, and if you’re like me, you’re here for every single second of it.

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