Gene Collier: Some promotions for Steelers to consider



Not to focus any undue attention on the fact that fan interest in this Steelers season has waned just a bit, but the headline on the customary release from the football club encouraging fans to arrive early to Heinz Field now just says, "Fans Encouraged to Arrive."

Yeah, I'm here all weekend.

Fact is, several reasonably well-placed, sporadically reliable, OK, fictional sources tell me that the market for Steelers-Bills tickets isn't exactly on fire, nor is the secondary market, nor is the tertiary market, and worse, interest in the entire balance of the home schedule is less than incendiary.

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If the Steelers do not win Sunday against Buffalo, a 3-6 team that would be ripe for ridicule if it weren't for the fact that 3-6 would be a major boost for the 2-6 Steelers, then drastic measures by management could be in the offing, these same quasi-dependable sources have indicated.

From this I have inferred, I think somewhat reasonably, that you could be in for an unprecedented mini-era in the history of the Steelers fan experience, namely a Steelers promotional schedule in the manner made infamous by the Pirates lo these many years.

We're probably not talking bobbleheads here, as an industry that just agreed to pay most of $1 billion over head injury claims by former players probably isn't going there, but some fan-friendly promotions are likely in development. These would be baseball-inspired but in an obvious NFL vein.

Several already have been tabled, my so-called sources indicate, either due to questionable workability, suitability or appeal.

DeMarcus Van Dyke Jersey Day has been scrapped, in part because no one with the organization could remember what number the third-year cornerback wears, and in part due to fears he would be released for the 19th time before the Steelers could take delivery on the garments.

Incognito Day was another idea that didn't get far. The premise was something of a cross between Halloween and the most recent NFL public-relations nightmare, in which the Miami Dolphins, set to visit Heinz Field Dec. 8, suspended offensive lineman Richie Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team while the league investigates his alleged threats against teammate Jonathan Martin.

You can imagine this short discussion.

"Wait, so fans come dressed as someone else [incognito] and we give them a free dinner if they threaten to kill somebody? What else ya got?"

Injured Reserve Picnic Day also failed to make the cut, but I don't see the harm in allowing early arriving fans to enjoy a box lunch and a short Q&A with Plaxico Burress, Larry Foote, Levi Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, LaRod Stephens-Howling et al.

Fortunately, a minimal number of exciting promotions could sufficiently fill out the home schedule in a season when bad news reliably has been followed by worse news. Or as former team MVP Antonio Brown said on his radio show this week, "When you lose, everything is magnitude."

True dat.

Nov. 10 -- This Sunday might be, c'mon should be, Casey Hampton Day.

The Steelers should pay tribute to Hampton, a Texas Superman who for years stood at the nexus of the team's recent defensive history -- when he was here, you couldn't run on this team. When he left, you couldn't help but run on this team. The Big Snack would eat it up. Also: One size fits two -- one Hampton jersey for every two fans.

Nov. 17 -- Todd Haley Headset Day. All fans receive a working headset just like the offensive coordinator wears, into which they can bark their play choices throughout the game against the Detroit Lions. Their play selections are encrypted and suitable for playback as they watch a replay of the game in the comfort of their homes, just to see how their play call would have worked (no doubt!) in the corresponding situation.

Do you seriously think people wouldn't do this?

Dec. 8 -- Fans Punt The Football Day. That's right, but, unlike at the Pirates games, when fans line up after the game to run the bases, this would be during the actual game. Arrive early because the line forms next to special-teams coordinator Danny Smith, and probably not more than seven or eight punters should be needed Sunday. And, remember, if you get there and see any of these people -- Drew Butler, Mat McBriar, Brian Moorman, Zoltan Mesko or Jeremy Kapinos -- feel free to cut in line.

Dec. 15 -- Big Mac Magic Sack Attack Night. At Penguins games, the seventh Penguins goal used to be the chili goal, good for a free chili at Wendy's, I believe. In this Steelers promotion, the fourth sack of the opposing quarterback(s) will bring fans a free Big Mac with their ticket stub. By way of full disclosure, the Steelers haven't managed four sacks in any game this year. Also: Not good in the event of four or more sacks of Ben Roethlisberger.

Dec. 29 -- Fireworks.

Day game, true, but don't tell me Pittsburghers won't hang around an hour or two after the game against the Cleveland Browns for fireworks.

Also, this could thin out traffic. Win win.

As ever, no need to thank me.

Gene Collier: gcollier@post-gazette.com.


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