Justin K. Aller
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown celebrates game-winning touchdown by embracing a little boy in the stands at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon.
It was just an ordinary nine yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown late in the third quarter that gave the Steelers a 17-10 lead in a game they would ultimately win 24-10 to close out the 2012 season at 8-8.
However, instead of celebrating with the "Wide Receiver Dance Du Jour," Brown immediately went over to a little boy in the stands just beyond the end zone in the open area of Heinz Field, handed him the football and lifted him up to give him a warm embrace as other Steelers faithful joined in on the celebration (click on the link provided for the replay).
As I watched the scene unfold, I said to my friends, "That's pretty nice."
And it was.
Sometimes, as fans, football players can seem larger than life and out of touch--especially with their multi-million dollar contracts they earn for playing a game any of us would probably play for free--and it's nice to see them interact with people and do something spontaneous from time-to-time.
The Steelers have procured quite the legacy over the past 40 years of excellence, and in addition to the many winning seasons and championships, another reason is because they've had a long list of players who "get it."
From Joe Greene to Rod Woodson to Jerome Bettis to Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward, players who have called Pittsburgh their football home have long understood the importance of Steeler Nation to their great success and legacies over the years.
Local radio personality and reporter Stan Savran often talks about a time in training camp, circa 1980, when a couple of rookies were walking back to their dorm rooms after practice and acting a little disrespectful to fans who were trying to get an autograph. Unbeknownst to these rookies, "Mean Joe" was walking behind them and shouted out, "Hey, we don't do that around here!"
Joe Greene "got it."
He might still be a young pup with a lot to learn and prove, but in his short time in Pittsburgh, it looks like Antonio Brown "gets it," and it showed with his interaction with that little boy at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking of that little boy, Brown can probably fumble a thousand times in his career, and he'll still have at least one fan for life.
Steeler Nation is one big family, and it's awesome!
Happy New Year!