Re: Sports Illustrated: Training camp postcard from Latrobe
5. For all of the talk about the Steelers' offseason losses -- Bettis, Chris Hope, Kimo von Oehlhoffen, Antwaan Randle El -- the most significant move may have been retaining Whisenhunt, who almost certainly could have had the Raiders head coaching job that went to Art Shell. "It feels like Napa here today," Whisenhunt said, noting the sudden absence of humidity (following a brief Thursday night rainstorm) as he exited the St. Vincent dining hall Friday afternoon. (Napa, of course, is where the Raiders hold camp.) "I walked outside and did a double-take, like, did I take that job?" Whisenhunt smiled -- he's happy to have stayed with the Steelers, a classy organization with a head coach, Cowher, who habitually hires and grooms sharp and well-rounded assistants. There is little doubt that Whisenhunt will soon be a head coach -- with some people, like former Cowher assistants Marvin Lewis, you can just tell. The only question is, where? And, intriguingly: Is Pittsburgh a possibility? Some speculate that Cowher will walk away after this season and that owner Dan Rooney will hire Whisenhunt to be the heir to the Chuck Noll/Cowher legacy.
Rooney may be the NFL's most accomplished owner, but you won't find his bio in the Steelers' sparkling 456-page media guide. That's the way the 73-year-old boss likes it, which tells you all you need to know about the man, his city and his franchise.
Random Note for Those Who Favor Reality over Fantasy
In what appears to be a fit of post-9/11 security overkill, the Steelers are asking visiting media members to give their driver's licenses as collateral while in possession of media passes. Because I planned to be driving between practice sessions -- and because, were there to be a terrorist attack, I'd strongly prefer to have some ID in my possession while fleeing -- I refused (hey, I went to Cal, what can I say?). When asked to provide another form of collateral, I offered a single Cinammon Altoid from my pocket. (The team's reasoning, I'm told, is that some media members less known to the public relations staff tend to disappear with passes, some of which theoretically could be sold to overzealous fans. Personally, if I wanted to make some money while visiting Latrobe, I'd start brushing up on my Tiger Woods Golf skills.)
Freestyle Friday gives the Pittsburgh players a chance to demonstrate their improvisational rap skills in the locker room, and center Chukky Okobi and safety Ryan Clark got especially high marks from witnesses. And what of the team's resident loudmouth, linebacker Porter? Teammates say J-Peezy's freestyle flow isn't overly impressive, but the ninth-year veteran does occupy himself during position meetings by writing training-camp-inspired rhymes for the benefit of his fellow linebackers. "Every single day," says linebacker Larry Foote. "I'm trying to absorb what the coaches are saying, and he's like, 'Hey, Foote, check this one out.'"