Willie Parker remembers when he played for the Steelers and he would look around and see some of the former players come back for alumni weekend. He might not have always known who each player was, but there was one thing he always did know, these were the men who paved the way for the players of today.
“You had a sense of respect for them,” said Parker, one of the alumni attending the Steelers-Ravens game as a part of this year’s alumni weekend. “The older guys started it and we always looked up to them. We tried to follow their footsteps of doing things the right way.
“Now that I am back I see the younger guys. There is so much love and camaraderie. We are a band of brothers. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Running back Jerome Bettis also remembers seeing the alumni come back and laughed thinking he was now one of those guys the current players were coming over to say hi to.
“It’s weird in a way,” said Bettis. “That was a dream for me to spend time with the older guys and learn from them. Now I am one of the older guys and I welcome the younger guys picking my brain and talking to me. I am happy to give all of the information I can. It’s about the past generations giving back to the younger players.”
Wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, who played on all four Super Bowl teams in the 1970s, are no strangers to Heinz Field, and loved being a part of the weekend excitement.
“I live in Pittsburgh so I am here all of the time,” said Swann. “I am a season ticket holder. I get to the games all of the time with my wife and kids so this is home. This feels like it’s supposed to be.”
Stallworth, a member of the Steelers’ investor group, loves coming back to Heinz Field, especially for a huge game like tonight’s.
“It’s a big rivalry and a game the Steelers need to win,” said Stallworth. “In the past when people were hurt we always had someone to step up and I expect that to happen again.”
The players, who attended Taste of the Steelers at Heinz Field on Saturday night, will all be honored during a halftime ceremony and are excited about the electric atmosphere that will be at Heinz Field.
“It’s going to be rocking. It’s great,” said Bettis. “To see us go out and play against a tough Ravens team is going to be fun. This is what it is all about. When you have an opportunity to play for a great organization you appreciate these special moments and this is definitely one of them, not only because we get to come back but because the Steelers-Ravens rivalry is so strong. I am proud to have helped develop it.”