HAMPTON, Va. - Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hosted Casino Night in Hampton Roads Friday night.
The event featured dozens of former and active NFL players, and raised money for the Hampton Roads Youth Foundation.
"It's really something that I look forward to every year," Tomlin, a Denbigh High School alum, said. "Not only is it a time to reconnect with loved ones, and family members and friends, but more importantly it's an opportunity to give back to the next generation.
"We all get a chance to do what it is that we do because we were raised by this community and nurtured by members of this community, so it's only appropriate that we come back and pass it on to the next generation."
While Tomlin returns home to give back to the community every offseason, this is the first time the Hampton Roads native chose to host a Casino Night.
"I'll do whatever it takes to get people in the building, because at the end of the day we've got certain bills to pay, we're trying to fund scholarships, we're trying to do things to mobilize and create opportunities for young people and with that comes responsibility," Tomlin said.
Hampton Roads has been a pipeline for quality NFL talent for a long time and, regardless of what team they play for, players often get together when they return home during the offseason.
"Just about every week in the fall I walk into stadiums and I see 757 guys," Tomlin said. "Obviously it's less cordial, we've all got business to handle and so it's good to see them in this setting. To see where they come from and to see everybody in the same spirit. We don't have jobs to do. We're all back here to share our blessings with the next generation."
As Tomlin and the Steelers prepare for the upcoming NFL season, they leave behind the Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown drama of last season. But, their departure means the loss of two of the team's biggest offensive assets.
"I like the questions surrounding us, I think our team does," Tomlin said. "We look forward to meeting them head on and maybe proving some doubters wrong.
"Our agenda never changes. We're trying to be world champions this year and we'll aggressively pursue it."