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Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 schedule: At least they have Festivus off

The Steelers have to play games on all three major holidays this season:Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, but that shouldn't matter, since families sit around and watch football on those days, anyway.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

I remember the old days, when the Steelers' portion of the NFL schedule for the upcoming season was released, and I would say, "I really need to start flossing more."

But like everything else NFL-related, these days, you can't just do things like floss your teeth when something like who the Steelers will play in the regular season is announced; you have to analyze it.

"Which match-ups will prove to be the most arduous?" you might ask if you were a football fan AND used big words like "arduous." Of course, thanks to parity, nobody really knows for sure which opponents will be the arduous ones and which will be the complete opposite of that word (besides both games against the Browns, of course).

The only thing I do know is that the releasing of the NFL's schedule has now become an official event, where, much like March Madness with its Selection Sunday Show, everyone sits around and anticipates the dates and times of all 17 games (boy the NFL really has us hooked).

Sadly, like a lot of stuff in the social media age, fans are even prone to rage over something like an NFL schedule. Much of the angst this year has to do with Pittsburgh being scheduled to play on all three major holidays--Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.

As it pertains to Steeler Nation, perhaps the most angst-filled member is a player who has cryptically threatened to retire and become a fan rather than play a schedule that forces him to work during three major holidays.

"Retirement sounds better than ever when you realize you'd have to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's," Tweeted popular Steelers linebacker James Harrison on Thursday, shortly after the NFL released its 2016 schedule.

I guess I can see why Harrison cares so much. After all, football is a job to him, and who wants to go to work during a major holiday? However, if I were Deebo, I'm not so sure I'd retire over it, and if he does retire, how serious was he about coming back, anyway?

As for you, do you really care that much if the Steelers play on three holidays? You might look at it as the NFL being out to get your favorite team, but that's really not the case. The Steelers are a marquee franchise, and that comes with a price. No, Pittsburgh didn't receive the maximum number of five prime-times this time around (the total will be four), but it will be only one of four teams playing on Christmas Day, when the Ravens travel to Heinz Field in Week 16.

Steelers fans love to brag about how their favorite football team is the greatest in the world, and I tend to agree with that, since I am, in-fact, a huge Steelers fan. But being universally popular means you often have to live an uncomfortable lifestyle (just ask The Beatles).

What would you rather have: The Steelers playing Baltimore at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Day or the Jaguars at 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve? I remember when I was 18 years old, and the Rams traveled to Three Rivers Stadium during the 1990 season for Pittsburgh's first Monday night game in four years. ABC, the network with the Monday Night Football package in those days, edited in Steelers highlights from 1986 during Hank Williams Jr.'s "Are you ready for some football!" intro, and half the players highlighted were no longer on the roster.

The 1980s weren't kind to the Steelers, and the fact that it was a very big deal they were on Monday Night Football might seem foreign to you now, if all you know is the consistent success that started in the early '90s under Bill Cowher and has continued on with the Mike Tomlin era.

Playing on Christmas might not be ideal if you want to spend time with the family, but let's face it, what do families do during the holidays? They sit around and talk about football. They watch football. They talk about their fantasy teams.

Every season, the NFL holds three games on Thanksgiving, and the stadiums are packed. Every January 1, thousands upon thousands of college football fans attend bowl games all across the country.

So far, none of that has been a big deal.

If you want to protest the fact that the Steelers will be forced to work during major holidays, boycott the games at Heinz Field on December 25 and January 1. After all, that's what people always do when huge grocery chains and department stores force their employees to work during the holiday season.

However, I have a funny feeling you won't be doing that, and unless the Steelers are 3-11 and have nothing to play for, Heinz Field will be packed in Week 16 and in Week 17.

But if you're really adamant about it, give me your tickets.