It goes without saying that the Pittsburgh Steelers played today’s game under uncommon circumstances, just a day after the Pittsburgh community suffered perhaps its deadliest mass shooting it has ever seen, when 11 individuals were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section.
The Steelers held a moment of silence for the victims prior to the game, and many players wore paraphernalia demonstrating their love of their community, such as Cameron Heyward, and even relative newcomer Ryan Switzer.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin opened his post-game remarks following a 33-18 blowout addressing the incident that clouds the city. “Let me start out by representing our organization in saying that our hearts go out to the victims of yesterday’s shooting, and just the Squirrel Hill community, and the community of Pittsburgh at large”, he said. “I’m a member of the Squirrel Hill community personally, and words cannot express how we feel as members of this community”. Like Tomlin, team President Art Rooney II also lives in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of the city.
There is no easy way to segue from tragedy to sports, but also inevitable, as he continued to talk about the game that just unfolded. Late in the press conference, a reporter asked him about what the result meant in light of the shooting. “You know, I’m not going to make it about me or about us”, he responded. “I’m just glad that we’re here to serve our community as we can in some small way”.
As you surely know by now, a presumably lone gunman committed a loathsome, hateful attack on the Jewish community of Pittsburgh in slaughtering, among others, a 97-year-old survivor of the Holocaust. The attacker has been open about his extreme anti-Semitism, which obviously resulted in what we saw unfold yesterday.
After the game, Heyward teared up as he told Aditi Kinkhabwala, “we’re just glad we’re here to serve our community if we can in some small way”, echoing the same sentiment expressed by his head coach. Vince Williams added his thoughts as well, among other players.
#Steelers owner Art Rooney lives in Squirrel Hill. HC Mike Tomlin lives 1.5 blocks from Tree of Life. DE Cam Heyward, who used to live in SH, teared up talking abt team’s responsibility today. Tomlin: “We’re just glad we’re here to serve our community if we can in some small way”
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2018
That was for the City!!!! Hope it can bring a small amount of light during this dark time. 🙏🏾
— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) October 28, 2018
It is undeniable that Pittsburgh’s sports teams have been a great source of pride, and of comfort, to the city, the Steelers and their players among their most celebrated citizens. While it might be just a game, it is sometimes exactly what is needed to provide some a distraction from the horrors that surround them, especially one that hits so close to home.