As a sports blogger, I found myself rather annoyed a couple years ago after the Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve all in the same season. And to top it all off, it had been the second time in a row that the Steelers were asked to play on Christmas.
Head coach Mike Tomlin, as he usually does, has a different perspective. With his team preparing to host the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving in just a few days’ time, he was asked, particularly in this climate, what it means for him and his team to have the opportunity to play in front of their fans, and in front of the nation, on a holiday in which we normally get together, but which this year, many will not be able to.
“There’s scarcity in these opportunities. When the schedule comes out, I view it as such and treat it as such”, he said. “When you get an opportunity to play on primetime, that means something in our league. When you get an opportunity to be featured on a holiday game, that’s special”.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to entertain our fans in that way”, he continued. “It has been a challenging year. I hope in some small way for a few hours that we can provide the type of entertainment that allows them to forget about it to a degree and do so with loved ones and in a festive atmosphere. I think that’s something we all can agree to and appreciate”.
While it might not be fun to work on Thanksgiving, I’m sure we all have had that experience of tuning into an NFL game or two during the holiday festivities. It’s something that has been a generational experience, and one that Tomlin shared as much as any of us.
“It is an honor for us to entertain our fans and fans in general on Thursday Night Football and on Thanksgiving. That’s not something that we take for granted”, he said. “As a young guy who loved football, man I grew up watching football on the holidays, and it’s an honor and it’s humbling to provide that for others and to be associated with that and the memories it creates”.
A few years back, the Steelers dealt a critical blow to the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Day with the Immaculate Extension. They now host the Ravens on Thanksgiving this year, and have the chance to eliminate them from the running for the AFC North title, which they have won in each of the past two years.
It would certainly make Steelers fans very thankful to see Pittsburgh not only sweep Baltimore, for the first time in years, but also to knock them out of the running with still five games left to play. I certainly think that would constitute a memorable moment, especially for young Steelers fans.