The Steelers are a family business, and have always been about family.
It may have started with the Chief, but it certainly didn't stop with the front office.
The greatest father-son Steeler story may well have been that of Aaron Smith and his 5-year-old son Elijah, who battled leukemia during the 2008 Super Bowl winning season. Aaron was with his son during the week, as Elijah underwent chemotherapy, and Smith was regularly listed as "Did Not Practice (personal)."
Coach Tomlin allowed him all the time off he needed, and Aaron practiced, studied, and worked out at home.
"Football is not the most important thing in my life," Aaron Smith said later, when the story finally went public.
"I don't care if he shows up an hour before game time," Coach Tomlin later told the media.
Family came first for this legendary Pittsburgh (Steeler) Dad.
The Steeler family and Pittsburgh media knew why Aaron missed those practices, but respected Aaron and Jaimie's privacy. and published nothing. Finally, around Christmas, Aaron and Jaimie went public with Elijah's condition, telling a Post-Gazette columnist to report that their son was responding well to treatments, and urging Steeler fans to participate in a special blood drive in his honor. Smith noted that blood donations are usually slow around the holidays. Hundreds of fans responded, stood in line, and rolled up their sleeves the day after Christmas.
Google Aaron Smith, Elijah, and leukemia and read the stories. Have a kleenex ready.
To see Aaron holding Elijah high in his arms - moments after the Super Bowl - with confetti streaming down amid the on-field celebration - was one of those moments you never forget: Family. Faith. Football. Courage. Love.
BTW: Elijah Smith is cancer-free and just graduated high school. The courageous little boy has grown up a bit. He went out for the football team at North Allegheny. Played some right tackle the past couple years. You could say that. He's 6'5", 270 pounds, and was described as "a force" out there. Was team captain. He's headed off to college this fall at IUP.
Happy Father's Day to Aaron Smith, to all in Steeler Nation, and to all you love.