The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots rivalry may have lost its luster ahead of their Thursday Night Football matchup, with the former fighting for playoff survival and the latter a dismal 2-10 this season.
However, there is a performer who can help crank the volume up before the TNF game. Here’s who is performing the National Anthem of the Week 14 TNF contest at Acrisure Stadium.
‘Renegade’ Hitmaker Band Styx To Set the Tone for Steelers/Patriots
Styx, the band behind the Steelers’ theme “Renegade” that gets blared at home games and psyches up the crowd, will be doing their version of the Star Spangled Banner.
The band made the announcement ahead of the game on their Instagram page.
ESPN radio personality Pat McAfee is energized about the idea of the legendary band performing the anthem.
“Look out for this Thursday Night Football game to not be a snoozer,” McAfee said on his show Thursday.
McAfee then delivered the bold prediction of how the TNF game will go with Styx involved.
“This game is going to have more electricity humming inside that stadium than any game ever,” McAfee stated before then doing an acapella version of another version of the band’s hit “Renegade.”
BREAKING NEWS: STYX will perform the National Anthem in Pittsburgh tonight
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) December 7, 2023
How Long Has Styx Performed? What’s Their Tie to the Steelers?
Styx was originally formed in Chicago in 1972. They’re revered in rock lore for blending in melodic hard rock guitars with an acoustic one and an acoustic piano. The natives of the Windy City are considered legends in progressive rock. However, they’ve grown beloved in the Steel City.
The progressive rock band has their hit song “Renegade” playing loud and clear before the Steelers hit the field late in the game on defense. That practice wasn’t started until 1978, before the song’s official 1979 release. The Steelers, though, continue to keep the song’s popularity alive once the fourth quarter arrives.
Lead singer Tommy Shaw even did a feature video with the Steelers explaining the deeper meaning behind the song and how it’s become beloved by the Terrible Towel wavers.
What you didn’t see on TV — a worthy rendition of the National Anthem by @STYXtheBand 🇺🇸
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) December 8, 2023
“It’s one of those songs that kind of wrote itself,” Shaw began. “I was in my house in Michigan, actually at the piano, and it was more like a slow, kind of durgy thing and very dark. And, started singing. But it did tell the story of a guy on the run.”
The song meaning describes an outlaw who is soon to be executed for the crimes he committed. He’s captured for a bounty and realizes he’ll be given death by hanging.
“Hangman is coming down from the gallows and I don’t have very long,” is part of the opening lyrics for the song.
Even with the dark tone of the song, it became revered for its capella beginning before the sound of the drums and guitar kicks in. “Renegade” rose to No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1979.
But the idea to incorporate the song into Steelers home games came in 2001 before the franchise moved to Heinz Stadium. The Steelers, led by the vision of Senior Manager of Marketing/Events Mike Marchinsky, decided to use the song and mix it with highlight videos and other content to get the crowd and players pumped up.
He adds that his mom and wife were fans of Styx. He became influenced to use the song while driving to work.
Past Steeler legend Joey Porter then furthered popularized the song inside home games by helping with a new video version created strictly for home games. Other Steeler legends like James Harrison, Lamar Woodley and Troy Polamalu have been seen getting getting energized to the music. Now, stars like Alex Highsmith, Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt use the song as fuel the moment “Oh mama” gets sung through the speakers.
“It’s one of those things where you get goosebumps. But you have to be a Steeler to understand it. It’s part of history,” Porter said.
Now, Styx will have a new reason to psych the home Steelers crowd outside of “Renegade.”
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