Steelers rookie Kevin Dotson gives first game ball to super-fan dad

PITTSBURGH -- Kelcy Dotson didn’t get to be at Heinz Field for his son’s first NFL start on Sunday, but Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Kevin Dotson secured something that might make his dad feel a little bit better.

After the win against the Denver Broncos, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger handed Dotson a game ball and said to send it to his dad, a lifelong Steelers fan.

“We were excited for him,” Roethlisberger said. “I mean, the young man grew up a Steelers fan. He told me his dad watches it in his man cave upstairs. I was just so happy that he got out there and got the play. I gave the ball to him afterwards and told him to give it to his old man.”

Before Dotson could even call his dad after the game, his phone started ringing. Just a few minutes after Roethlisberger gave him the ball, Dotson told his dad what was coming his way.

“I’ve been talking to Ben and telling him about my father and stuff like that,” Kevin said. “It was really cool to get that gift and just be able to send that to my dad, who I know is going to be able to appreciate it. I know he’s going to hold on to it forever.

“I talked to him as soon as it happened. It’s the most excited I’ve heard him before.”

That means he must have sounded pretty excited to top how he felt when Dotson was drafted in April.

“It’s almost unbelievable,” Kelcy Dotson told ESPN a few months ago. “I still ask myself, and still literally pinch myself. Is this still real? I go on the Steeler app everyday. I’m still doing that now. I’m seeing his name on there and his picture on there. It is almost unbelievable. Every time I watch ESPN, I see his name scroll on the bottom of it, and it’s unbelievable.”

Dotson, playing in place of injured right guards David DeCastro and Stefen Wisniewski, didn’t give up a sack in his debut and turned in a quality performance in both pass- and run-blocking.

“I just appreciate the efforts and the attitude, particularly of the young guys,” coach Mike Tomlin said Sunday. “Kevin Dotson start[ed] his first game and missed quite a bit of time in team development. You got to tip your cap to him for his efforts.”

Dotson attributed his solid start to practicing against some of the NFL's best defenders.

“If you had asked me this before the season started, I would’ve been like, I can imagine the game going crazy and it’s going to be really hard to block these people,” Dotson said. “But I’ve been taking practice reps with [Stephon] Tuitt, Cam [Heyward] and T.J. [Watt] all during these weeks, so getting into that game, I have confidence in going against pretty much anybody defensive-line wise.”