It started with former defensive end Ray Seals and his "60-Minute Men" T-shirts in 1994 and continued with Joey Porter's "Big Nasty D" T-shirts earlier this century.
Today, the Steelers sport a new T-shirt that reads simply "Use Me." They wore them during warmups Sunday in Cincinnati and, yes, there is a story behind it, according to defensive end Brett Keisel.
"We were in meetings once, and coach said, 'Arnold Harrison!' And Arnold said, 'Use me!' It kind of started from that.''
And its meaning?
"It means all of us are accountable and all of us in here want to be on the field," Keisel explained. "If you're on the field, then you have an expectation level you need to play to. That's what it means. When you're out there, you're part of the group and you're being useful."
Apparently, a player did not come up with the T-shirt idea in line with Seals and Porter.
"I think coach did," Keisel said of Mike Tomlin. "It wasn't any of us."
Cornerback Anthony Madison played almost too well last year for him to make a team this year after the Steelers released him with the rest of their final cuts Sept. 1. Because he played 13 games as an undrafted rookie in 2006, Madison was not eligible for any team's practice squad.
It meant some team had to put him on its 53-man roster, or Madison would have to go home and work out on his own. That is what he did, until the Steelers called this week and added him to their 53-man roster with the hopes he can help beef up their special-teams play. Madison played last season on their kickoff, punt and punt-return teams.
"No practice-squad eligibility makes it hard for a lot of guys, especially once the season begins," Madison said "They're adamant about not wanting to bring guys in."
The Steelers released fourth-year cornerback Ricardo Colclough, their second-round draft pick in 2004, to make room for Madison.
Big Ben, the football junkie
Tomlin on the difference between the Ben Roethlisberger of 2006 and the one playing this season:
"I wasn't here, so I don't know the things that happened on a day-to-day basis leading up to those performances," Tomlin said. "I am pleased with the professional approach he has taken.
"I am pleased with the way he has taken the leadership role that comes with being the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"He is communicating well with his teammates. He is a football junkie. He is into the game plans. Communication has been fluent under good circumstances and bad. He is the same guy every day, and that is what makes it fun."
McFadden back, too
Cornerback Bryant McFadden put in a full practice yesterday for the first time since his high ankle sprain in a game in Arizona Sept. 30. Among those who did not practice on a week in which they get one extra practice were Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Marvel Smith, Ryan Clark, Aaron Smith, Jerame Tuman and Dan Kreider.
An eye-catching deal
Roethlisberger's reaction to quarterback Tony Romo's new six-year, $67 million contract in Dallas? "Impressive."
The Steelers plan to open contract extension talks with Roethlisberger after the season.