Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
Yes, these are the five stages of grief. But over the last week, I’ve seen all of them displayed by different Steelers fans in regards to the renaming of Heinz Field to Acrisure Stadium.
“I’m not calling it that!”
“This name sucks!”
“If enough fans sign the petition, will the Steelers reconsider?”
“I’m just sad because of all the fond memories I have at Heinz Field.”
“It’s just the name on the sign. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum when it comes to the name of the Steelers home venue, it’s okay to feel that way right now. Of course, we need to be responsible human beings and not take our anger or depression to an extreme level to where it affects our every day life, but feeling something towards a place that obviously means something to so many fans shouldn’t be brushed under the rug.
On Monday, it didn’t help as a hard dose of reality hit Steelers fans as images and videos emerged of the Heinz ketchup bottles being taken down off of the Jumbotron at the south end of the stadium. This per Julia Felton of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
The first of two massive Heinz ketchup bottles framing the scoreboard is down at the newly-renamed Acrisure Stadium.@TribLIVE pic.twitter.com/0k4uBcO9V7— Julia Felton (@JuliaFelton16) July 18, 2022
I’m sure most fans felt one or more of the five emotions discussed above when seeing the video. Even though I’m in the ‘acceptance’ category, as well as someone who despises the red condiment from a food standpoint, it was sad to see the bottles attached to a crane and end the 21-year era. I was never able to take in a game at Three River Stadium, so the only place I have ever watched a home Steelers game in person is at Heinz Field.
But when I really think about it, it’s not that I’ll be sitting in a different seat and watching a different team. I’ll still have a nice view of the Jumbotron at the other end of the stadium, it just won’t have the ketchup bottles on them anymore. The Steelers will still run out of the tunnel, we will waive our terrible towels, and we will anticipate the playing of Renegade sometime in an important moment of the game.
So will it really be all that different?
It’s not like I’m trying to convince everyone to get to the acceptance stage, i’m just merely trying to offer a little perspective to hopefully make fans feel better. If you’re not ready for it, that’s okay as well.
What is true about Steelers’ Nation is they are very diverse group of people. Between age, current location, various beliefs, and other things that have absolutely nothing to do with NFL football, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a common bond we all share. But like the diversity of Steelers’ Nation, we must remember that we all have diverse feelings about this subject. Just because someone is angry about the name change, it doesn’t make them wrong. That is also true about those who have accepted the change.
One example is Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward. In order to attempt to calm down Steelers’ fans, Heyward put his thoughts out about those devastated by the removal of the ketchup bottles:
Man y’all better let it go. It’s a Heinz bottle! We’ve got bigger fish to fry! See y’all in Latrobe ✌— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) July 18, 2022
As Cam Heyward tries to put the name on the Steelers home Stadium into perspective when it comes to the upcoming season, there are others who voiced their displeasure that he felt this way. What we all need to remember is that it’s fine that Heyward feels this way, it’s fine if you don’t agree. We just might not all be there yet.
While I do like to remind Steelers fans we all are coming from a different place when it comes to the importance of the stadium name and how much it affects our thoughts of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I am going to hit you with a harsh dose of reality…
Don’t expect the name to change.
Yes, it might make some feel better to put their name on a petition about changing the name, but holding out hope that it’s going to make a difference is only going to prolong the agony. Hoping that something happens and the deal falls through is a long shot at this point as the Steelers would not have held a press conference to announce the new name of the stadium if there was any chance this could happen. This is simply how it is. In 2022, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be playing at Acrisure Stadium.
Whether or not fans are ready to accept this change at this time is ultimately up to them. But as Cam Heyward said, the Steelers have bigger things they need to worry about for this upcoming season than the name on the stadium.
Perhaps some will be so angry with the Steelers they will not attend a game or watch on television or buy any merchandise. If you are one of those people, chances are you are not even reading this article. But if you are reading this and know one of these people, perhaps maybe you should remind them of this: Acrisure wanted to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Very badly. They wanted it so much, the $3.8 billion company offered the Steelers a great deal. Who didn’t offer the Steelers the deal? The $45+ billion company in Kraft-Heinz. And by all indications, no other Pittsburgh-based company was willing to step up to this amount as well. So rather than being mad at the Steelers, perhaps you should be disappointed in those who didn’t want it bad enough to pay the price.
This is a gentle reminder that professional football is a business and even the Rooney family is not looking to lose money with their franchise. Whether fans like it or not, this is another one of those harsh realities.
So we can say goodbye to the ketchup bottles at Heinz Field. Whether or not you want to say hello to Acrisure Stadium is up to you. It’s fine if you’re angry. It’s fine if you’re sad. It’s fine if you’re ready to move on with the 2022 NFL season. We’re all coming at it from different places, But it’s ultimately our love for the Pittsburgh Steelers that has us feeling one way or another about the situation.