As the Steelers report to training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe today, myriad football plot-lines will begin to unfold in the coming weeks: will Mike Wallace sign? How will the new offense perform? Et cetera, ad nauseum.
However, one angle that seems timeless, comes before anything actually happens on the field: coverage of the Steelers actual arrival to camp, and the media's odd fascination with what they are driving to get there, and what they are toting into the dorms with them.
Looking through old stories on same subject turns up one by Vito Stellino from July 1976 when the then back-to-back defending Super Bowl champions made their way to training camp. Even then there was an interest in the players' cars and sundry items, a theme that's been repeated throughout the decades (because it's a fun detail and photo op):
"LATROBE -- In assorted vehicles ranging from Lynn Swann's Porsche to Moon Mullins' jeep, the Super Steelers came back to training camp yesterday. ...
... The vets hauled in their fans and TVs and plugged them in. ..."
The photo on the right is of Swann carrying a case of motor oil from his Porsche. You can read the entire 1976 story here.
Here's a Pittsburgh Press story from 1981 on the Steelers reporting to camp featuring a photo of John Stallworth carrying a refrigerator into the dorms:
Perusing the more recent PG photo archive, there all kinds of these pictures. Here are a few:
1999: Jerome Bettis and a television.
2003: Plexico Burress hauls a mattress.
2006: Max Starks arrives in a gorgeous classic car.
2009: James Harrison: big guy in a little car.
2012: And keeping up with great tradition, Farmer Kiesel arrives in a tractor.
Here's a snippet of what Ray Fittipaldo will have in Thursday's paper about it:
"Veteran defensive end Brett Keisel arrived at St. Vincent College in style Wednesday afternoon. Well, if not style, then Keisel’s definition of it.
"While the rest of his teammates were showing up in Cadillac Escalades, BMWs and other assorted luxury cars, Keisel drove an orange Kubota front-loading tractor onto campus to check into his dorm room. Keisel has made a habit of arriving to camp with a grand entrance, and he said his inspiration for the tractor was a nod to his days as a youth when he worked on farms in his native Wyoming."
It's all a little bit of symbiotic fun -- The players get to ham it up for the public and show off to each other a little bit, the media gets something amusing to report on for what otherwise is a non-event that the rest of us do daily: show up for work.
Ike Taylor wins Twitter today
Hands down, one of the best tweets ever by a Steeler. Great picture. And the notion of the 80-year-old United States Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland 'swaggin' speaks for itself:
Stumbled across this item while researching the above: today is the 40th anniversary of Franco Harris signing his rookie contract to officially become a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Post-Gazette's Jack Sell writes: "Optimists hailed it as all that's needed to bring the Black and Gold their first division championship in this 40th year of the club's history."
They were right. The Steelers did win their first division title in 1972, and a playoff game courtesy of a catch of some repute by a certain Italian-African-American gentleman.
Sell closes with a line on whether Harris would be a boom or a bust:
"Now it's up to Franco Harris to prove whether he's another Fran Rogel or Bob Ferguson."
He was neither, but rather the greatest running back in Steelers history, Bettis included.
Read the entire story.
Why Saint Vincent?
A video by Saint Vincent College on how they became the summer home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If you're headed to camp, the St. Vincent Summer Theater will be performing "The Chief," the award-winning play about Art Rooney Sr.'s life co-written by Post-Gazette columnist Gene Collier.
Details here (scroll to bottom)
Around the AFC North:
- Ed Reed reports to Ravens training camp.
- Actual optimisim in Cincinnati?
- The future begins anew on Lake Erie as Cleveland inks a deal with their 28-year old rookie quarterback.