PITTSBURGH — If you have been to a Steelers game in the past five years, there is a good chance you would run into Steelers Mascot Troy. He has attended every Steelers game for the last five years and has been at every Halloween Steelers home game since 2006. Very quickly, Mascot Troy, who dresses head to toe like Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu, became a recognizable and famous face amongst Steelers fans. However, everything goes just a little deeper with Mascot Troy from the beginning.
Steeler Mascot Troy, whose real name is Mike Dapcevich, was just like any other Steeler fan around Pittsburgh. He was a Steelers superfan. Noticing that the NFL always scheduled Steelers games on Halloween weekend, Dapcevich thought the Polamalu idea would be a great one. At the time, Polamalu had blossomed into a superstar with the Steelers. Pittsburgh goes crazy for Halloween, so the NFL always would let the Steelers play at home, and exotic costumes would come out of that. It is there, in 2006, that Dapcevich started what is now known as Mascot Troy.
“I started doing it on only Halloween games back in 2006,” Dapcevich said. “I would do it on Halloween games because Pittsburgh is a Halloween city. If you’ve ever noticed, the NFL always scheduled the Steelers at home on Halloween week. It’s every year because people here go Halloween crazy. That was how it all started, and then I retired five years ago. I’m now doing it full-time.”
It would be easy for Dapcevich to simply put on the costume every Sunday and make his way over to Heinz Field. There is a deeper purpose to the Mascot Troy idea now. Dapcevich showed up at JuJu Smith-Schuster’s final farewell to Pittsburgh charity event on June 12th, and that was only one of many charity events that Dapcevich puts his energy behind. He has learned that people love Mascot Troy, especially kids, and he can use it to support many charities. In fact, Dapcevich does so much charity work, that it takes up 40-60 hours a week for him.
“I have charities that have evolved out of this,” Dapcevich said. “This is a true full-time job. I work between 40 to 60 hours a week. That’s what brings me here to JuJu’s event. I will help out any charity that is for children or animals. JuJu’s charities are both.”
Those two charities were Paws Across Pittsburgh and the Miracle League. The Miracle League helps build rubberized baseball stadiums so children in wheelchairs can play baseball. So, for Dapcevich, it was an easy call to show up to Smith-Schuster’s charity event. That appearance was just one of many that Dapcevich will appear at this year. The Mascot Troy idea has gone from a Steeler fan channeling love for the Steelers to something much bigger than that.
Dapcevich loves the Steelers, but the calling for Mascot Troy is to help others. That is why on Christmas Eve and around the holidays, Dapvecich goes full into gear to help unprivileged children and families out. Not everyone has the money, resources, or stability to experience a full Christmas, but Mascot Troy is determined make sure that happens. It is something that not only makes his day, but brightens up the years of many around the Pittsburgh area. He has specific missions he carries out on that day. It brings him a special feeling.
“Giving back is so much better than receiving,” Dapcevich said. “On Christmas Eve, I deliver toys and winter Steelers gear to the three area women’s shelters. No one in this city has a better Christmas Eve than Mascot Troy. Seeing all of those children come around the corner and their sad and their heads are down, and then they come around the corner and see me with all of those wrapped presents and toys, and they just light up.”
There is something about giving that warms the heart of Dapcevich. To turn what has been a fun experience in Mascot Troy into what it is now, is something entirely special to him. For him, it is just carrying out a calling through one of his favorite passions in the life — the Steelers. His love for the Steelers and helping others has allowed him to change countless lives throughout the city of Pittsburgh. For him and the city, Mascot Troy is simply the gift that keeps on giving.
“Giving is the greatest gift in the world,” Dapcevich said. “I highly recommend it, it’s very addicting. It’s one the greatest gifts on Earth.”
Having been to every Steelers game since 2017, Dapcevich participates not just in the fanfare during the game, but the tailgating, too. He is on the North Shore all day if it is a Sunday. The reason he was able to help with all of the charities was his extreme popularity. Dapcevich’s popularity developed before he even took on the Mascot Troy role full-time. It was not until he started being invited to events and taking on the job full-time that he realized he was a local celebrity.
“I never realized how big I was on,” Dapcevich said. “Everybody knew who I was, and I had no idea. Part of it was I only showed up to one game a year. People would say ‘yeah, I got a picture with that guy, too, where is he,’ and I was there, but I wasn’t dressed as Troy. So, I’m in regular clothes and people don’t recognize me, or at least they didn’t. Now, they do.”
It is not just regular people who know Mascot Troy now. Current Steelers players, former Steelers, coaches, and others can recognize Mascot Troy whether he is dressed in-character or not. The fame is certainly something that he has to deal with, but Mascot Troy is just taking his platform graciously, even if Brett Keisel will recognize him in plainclothes.
“I was at a thing in Monroeville a couple of weeks ago, and Brett Keisel yelled out ‘Mascot Troy,’ and I was like you recognized me,” Dapcevich said. “Then he said that after Troy left I was the only Hawaiian left in the city.”
Mascot Troy, of course, dresses as Polamalu and he has met the man himself many times over at this point. It is not just Polamlau he knows, but his family as well. Polamalu is known for his outpouring of love outwardly, and Mascot Troy tries to channel that same energy. When they met up, it was almost like it was magical.
Mascot Troy may have slightly scared Polamalu’s kids since he looked just like their dad when he was playing football, but they grew to love him soon. That being said, that relationship has been built for years and years. So, when Polamalu was ready to get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August of 2021, Mascot Troy showed up. He certainly made his presence felt. As Chris Berman was introducing Polamalu, Mascot Troy took his Steelers flag in hand and ran in front of the stage. It erupted with raucous applause of roars and even got a laugh from Polamalu himself.
That was just an extension of a relationship between Polamalu and Mascot Troy that was fruitful. It was perhaps the most public, but Mascot Troy has bonded well with the man his likeness is made after.
“I’ve met Troy and his family,” Dapcevich said. “I’ve known his sons for years. I met his wife for the first time at the Hall of Fame. His kids are teenagers and they think this whole thing is hysterical. They laugh so hard when they see it. That’s funny because they were terrified when they first saw me. But since then, I’ve seen them grow. He’s great.”
What started out as a fun Halloween costume turned into a vehicle to help many around Pittsburgh through charities. This upcoming season, Mascot Troy will be at all of the Steelers home games yet again. He will show up at many supportive events. Dapcevich is not going to slow down anytime soon. After all, the gift of giving is powerful, and Dapcevich is going to continue to give back as long as he can.