The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Cincinnati for Sunday’s season opener against the AFC North rivals Bengals in style.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gifted his players with new black Air Force 1s, one of Nike’s most popular brands.
“Bro gave us all the black air force,” a voice said in a video posted to running back Najee Harris’ social media and later shared by the Steelers team account. The video featured the new sneakers with laughter in the background and showed Tomlin walking with a smile on his face.
The famous Nike shoes have become a viral sensation in recent years. Several internet memes feature black Air Force 1s as sneakers intended to elicit a menacing presence from those who wear them.
pittsburgh too posted a photo of Tomlin wear the shoes when arriving at the airport.
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The Steelers confirmed that it was Tomlin who gave the team their new shoes, but did not provide further details.
NBA star LeBron James was kicked from the kicks.
“Coach Tomlin hilarious for this”, Los Angeles Lakers forward wrote on Twitter with a series of laughing emojis.
Sunday is the first of two matchups for the Steelers and Super Bowl finalists Bengals in the 2022 regular season.
Tomlin, who was the team’s head coach for more than a decade, knows the rivalry well. As the Bengals defend their AFC playoff title, the Steelers continue to rebuild without franchise star Ben Roethlisberger.
“It’s important that I give you the answers to the test,” Tomlin told his team ahead of minicamp. “For me, that’s just good leadership. I’m not going to change my expectations as we move on to another component of football and not show you where the bright lines are.”
The Bengals present a tough test for the Steelers. Last season, Cincinnati won both games and edged Pittsburgh by a combined 45 points. But Tomlin has never had a losing season in 16 years at the helm.
If the black Air Force 1s are any indication, he doesn’t plan on losing the coming season — at least not without a fight.
“We all bear a small responsibility to make sure we raise this floor that we all walk on here every day,” Tomlin told the team. “There’s nothing mystical about what we do. If you’re trying to be big, participation is required.”