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Steelers rookies learn valuable lessons from visiting alumni

For some NFL teams, their history isn’t so rich. And for some NFL teams, their history isn’t that long.

But for the Pittsburgh Steelers they have both a lengthy and rich history which dates back to the dynasty of the 1970s. What seems to be even more common, and tremendous, is how the alumni will come back and visit. It almost has a college feel to it when it comes to players who wore the black-and-gold coming back to see the newest crop of players who are trying to forge their own destiny in the storied franchise.

When several alumni were back in town for Troy Polamalu’s Resilience Bowl at Acrisure Stadium, many of them swung by the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the south side and visited with the 2024 rookie class. Two players in particular made a lasting impression on the young players.

That duo would be none other than Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward.

“It’s surreal because you grew up watching those guys,” said linebacker Payton Wilson. “To be on the sideline, getting inspiration from them. Not only hearing what they are saying, but how they are interacting with people. It’s just a good tale of how to live your life both on and off the field. They are so humble, giving back to the community, and they are some of the greatest people to ever play this game. It was truly inspiring.

“It’s really cool to see that it’s almost a fraternity. I don’t know about other players, but it’s special how close everybody is. You want to be in a locker room like that.”

For 1st Round pick Troy Fautanu, he grew up watching these players win Super Bowls for the Steelers, so you can imagine how meeting Bettis and Ward had a lasting impact on him in many ways.

“Jerome told us just come in every day, put your head down and work and do everything you’re told to do,” said Fautanu. “Don’t try and go against the grain. Learn what the Steelers are about and the culture around here, that you’re not only playing for yourself and your family, but you’re playing for the great City of Pittsburgh.”

2nd Round pick Zach Frazier also spoke about the experience, and more words of wisdom from “The Bus”.

“It was amazing,” said Frazier. “Getting advice from them. It was cool to see legends like them, get advice and soak it all in. The best advice for me was when Jerome said to absorb everything the coaches are trying to teach you because at the end of the day, those are the people who decide who gets to play, who will be on the field. So just try to do everything that they say. It you make mistakes, correct them how they want you to correct them.”

What an experience for these young players to meet these legends, to listen to them and be able to get their careers off on the right foot. For the Steelers, alumni are part of the process. Seeing the legends who came before is part of becoming a member of the Steelers, and for the class of 2024 they just received their first indoctrination.

Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and gear up for the regular season.


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