When the Pittsburgh Steelers regular season schedule was released, a few of the dates had been leaked prior to the 8 p.m. EDT release date set by the NFL. One of them was the team’s Week 3 game in Chicago to play the Bears, and the other was the Christmas day game in Houston against the Texans.
Most fans felt the same way, and frustration spread throughout social media, but the surprise of back-to-back Christmas day games didn’t just impact fans, but also the head honcho of the Steelers, Art Rooney II.
“The league told me we wouldn’t have a home game on Christmas Day,” President Art Rooney II told the Steelers official website, “although I am surprised that we do have a Christmas Day game.”
“I guess you would say they are expecting us to be in it down the homestretch this year and they want to feature us that way,” said Rooney, “and in some sense I hope they’re right, although I would probably prefer the primetime games would be a little more spread out than this. But it’s certainly a primetime schedule, and we’ve got to be prepared to live up to the expectations.”
When it came to his thoughts on the new slate of games, they didn’t stop on just playing on December 25th, but also included starting on the road and prime time contests throughout the schedule.
“Obviously, the Christmas Day game jumped out at me first, unfortunately,” Rooney continued. “The next thing that jumped out was that we’re starting with three of the first four on the road, which is not ideal but you have to deal with that. Those are two of the things that jumped out at me, and the third thing, obviously, is the primetime lineup at the end of the season. That’s a little unusual, but we just have to be ready to go.”
Being ready to go for the Steelers has already begun as the team has officially started their first phase of offseason workouts, and the team is preparing to welcome a new wave of talent with the 2017 NFL Draft only days away.
As Mike Tomlin says, the schedule is the schedule, but whether the team is “ready to go” could be the difference between the team honoring Dan Rooney with a seventh Lombardi, or ending another season in disappointment.