PITTSBURGH -- With the Pittsburgh Steelers' series of organized team activities completed before reporting to training camp July 27, the team's offensive linemen ventured out together Thursday as a group to PPG Paints Arena to enjoy Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the hometown Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Nashville Predators.
The outing offered the group an opportunity to kick back while watching a different hometown team make a run toward what the city hopes will be another Stanley Cup title.
"Every OTAs, we do an O-line event before we get to minicamp," said center Maurkice Pouncey during the game. "We were going to go to the baseball game, but the hockey game ended up being here. We cancelled that and came here. It's been good so far."
The group, consisting of 15 players along with coaches Mike Munchak and Shaun Sarrett, was treated to an impressive hometown performance as the Penguins beat the Predators 6-0. Attending class and forced to arrive late, tackle Alejandro Villanueva missed some of those goals. But the night out proved to be a galvanizing excursion for the group.
"I'm actually from Nashville. I've been to a few Predators games too," guard Ramon Foster said. "But Pittsburgh is the only reason I watch hockey. My loyalty is here."
The group of linemen weren't the only ones representing the Steelers on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker Ryan Shazier also attended the game, as did former Steeler Brett Keisel.
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"We actually spotted our quarterback down there hanging out by the glass," said Pouncey after spotting Roethlisberger sitting in a separate section. "This is awesome. We're having a really good time."
The appearance from the Steelers' entire offensive line served as something of a response to the Tennessee Titans, whose linemen could be seen supporting the Predators throughout the postseason. The group attended Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Anaheim Ducks along with quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota and his linemen made another spirited appearance, complete with beers and catfish, during a viewing party for Game 2 of the Cup Final outside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
With the NFL season set to kick off Sept. 7, the Steelers were excited by the prospect of another hometown team potentially claiming a championship for Pittsburgh. With the Penguins on the cusp of hoisting the Stanley Cup for the second straight season, the group welcomed the attention that would eventually turn their way as they edge closer to the start of the season.
"They add pressure to us. But that's good. What better way to win it than to be at the Super Bowl with them winning also?" Foster said. "It's the city of champions. They kind of put the pressure on us. It's put up or shut up. It's exciting."