The NFL brought in about $14 billion last year. That is revenue paid for by the fans. Indirectly through television rights and directly through ticket sales and team jerseys/souvenirs.
What do the teams give back to the fans besides the pleasure or pain of watching their games? Are the Pittsburgh Steelers unique in the way they repay their fans with their Steelers Nation Unite (SNU) programme?
This morning I received my SNU Hall of Fame Fan Member certificate for this year.
You might think that it’s just a piece of paper and the cost of a postage stamp is a small price to pay for fan loyalty. Trust me, the rewards from the Steelers go a lot further than that. I am also honoured to have confirmation that I am a devoted Steelers fan. It’s recognition from my team that they appreciate my dedication.
I regularly see stories of “Make My Wish” and other deserving fans welcomed at the Steelers training complex where they rightly receive special treatment from the players and the organisation. Indeed, every NFL team support their fans that have special needs and deserve personal attention.
For making the ordinary “working stiff,” as the legendary Pittsburgh sports commentator Myron Cope once described me, feel special – the Steelers appear to be in a class of their own. The Steelers reward their fans for their loyalty.
SNU is an important and integral part of the Steelers organisation. For the fans that are members, it means you feel you are an essential and recognised part of the franchise.
A member of SNU receives points for participating with the Steelers. Listening to their radio broadcasts, watching their videos and generally getting involved with SNU, you receive points. And as we say in the UK, points mean prizes.
Making the SNU Hall of Fame level brings with it rewards that are worth receiving and the level isn’t too difficult to reach.
If you attend a game at Heinz Field, the rewards can be outstanding. I was lucky to get onto the field before a game a couple of years ago. Three members of SteelersNationUK were part of the Player’s Tunnel. As the team came out onto the field, we were there to greet them. Priceless. Money can’t buy an experience like that. I know a Hall of Fame member from Germany who was overwhelmed this year when he also made it onto the field.
I have even been involved with other fans in a phone-in when my question was answered by the Steelers President Art Rooney
I honestly believe the Steelers are alone in this creative way they treat and reward their fans. If anyone sees different, please let me know. I am keen to make our readers aware of how other NFL teams interact with their fans.