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The Pittsburgh Steelers would love for first round draft pick Kenny Pickett to play so well that he takes over the entire football-crazy town. And the quarterback is off to a pretty solid start.
Because Pickett has already conquered Kennywood.
And the Steel Curtain.
Kennywood, you should know, is an 80-acre amusement park 25 minutes from the 50-yard line at Heinz Field, where the Steelers play.
And that’s where Pickett spent part of his second day as a Steeler because, well, the place is a National Historic Landmark. And it features the Steel Curtain roller coaster among its 45 attractions.
And his name and the park’s name is Kenny, for goodness sake!
“It’s certainly a really neat coincidence having the Steelers’ top pick be a guy named Kenny and already being local from having gone to school at Pitt,” Kennywood director of communications Nick Paradise said.
Like many Western Pennsylvania residents (and some eastern Ohio people), Pickett was no stranger to Kennywood before he was drafted by the Steelers. He visited with the University of Pittsburgh football team in 2019 as part of a team building outing with coach Pat Narduzzi.
But Pickett had never ridden the Steel Curtain before.
Paradise said the visit was planned with the Steelers prior to the draft, but there was no telling whether it would happen until after Pickett was selected because not everyone’s appetite for roller coasters is the same
But Pickett was happy to visit and willing to get on the Steel Curtain.
This is where you should understand Pickett is not the first NFL player who makes a very public appearance on a roller coaster.
In 2018, Minnesota Vikings guard Jeremiah Sirles and linebacker Eric Kendricks tried to play Pictionary on the coaster inside the Mall of America.
A few years ago, Buffalo edge rusher Von Miller spent part of his offseason riding the coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
And former Denver Broncos strong safety Duke Ihenacho spent a day at that city’s Elitch Gardens some years ago, exclaiming “I hate roller coasters” throughout the ride.
The Steel Curtain is no joke as it travels 75 miles per hour at some points.
It holds three records for amusement park rides — yeah, that’s a thing:
At 220 feet high, the Steel Curtain is the tallest roller coaster in the state of Pennsylvania.
It has the tallest inversion in the world — meaning riders go upside down while 197 feet up in the air.
And there are nine inversions on the ride. So that roller coaster takes riders upside down more times than any roller coaster in America.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Paradise said.
Anyway, Pickett climbed aboard … and fainted.
No he didn’t.
He acted like he’d been on the ride hundreds of times. The biggest issue he seemed to have is that his hair got in his face a couple of times.
So this quarterback stared down the Steel Curtain and didn’t blink.
“I think that’s encouraging for all Pittsburgh to see he’s cool in the face of pressure, going up 220 feet in the air and going upside down and all the crazy stuff that ride entails,” Paradise said.
Pickett wasn’t done. He also tackled the Potato Patch, which serves heaping helpings of French fries, usually smothered with cheese and bacon, on a tray.
“We always joke that’s the most popular ride at the park because of the line and how many we serve every year at that stand,” Paradise said.
Kennywood serves approximately 500,000 boats of the fries per year. And, yes, Kennywood has a Potato Patch stand at Heinz Field.
…Just in case Kenny Pickett gets a yearning for a taste of Kennywood during the NFL season.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero