Although I don't live in the Burgh anymore, I still get sent some of the best articles. My father sent me this one and I thought I'd share. Not sure if it's already been posted. Here it goes:
LATROBE, Pa. (Aug. 3, 2006) -- I have seen high school football teams board beautiful coach buses to head out for a game. I have
been part of college teams that take big air-conditioned buses 20 miles to play the closest rivals, and a pro team wouldn't think of going five miles with out the most comfortable buses available --unless you are the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers. With 14,000 fans filling a high school stadium last night, the Steelers showed up in four yellow school buses for a live intrasquad practice and goal-line scrimmage.
As I stood in the bleachers and watched the buses pull up next to an old steel mill and the players get off with their shoulder pads in hand, I got goose bumps. I was living a dream. For one night, Mr. Rooney and Bill Cowher turned back the hands of time for me and the Steelers fans. I was allowed to take a peek at how it used to be --and it was awesome.
It looked like the origins of pro football, a steel town playing another steel town at the local stadium. As the players mingled with their fans, signed autographs and took pictures, Mr. Rooney presented one of the game balls from the Super Bowl to the mayor of the town. In that moment, I finally understood why the Steelers are
just different from most teams. There's no way the Steelers players could let these people down, and there's no way the fans could ever turn on the team when times get tough.
There was a 4-year-old boy sitting behind me with his mother, and he turned to her in his Jerome Bettis jersey and told her, "I'm glad to see coach letting Santonio Holmes catch some punts." He's too young
to understand that much football. At least, I thought a child that young didn't get the game yet, but he and his mom where there to watch some ball.
The Steelers fans love football! The high school football team in their game jerseys acted as a kind of security team to help the
players get from the buses to the field, but they really weren't needed, because the fans didn't charge the players or scream and yell, they just wanted to be up close to their beloved Steelers for some football under the lights.
Latrobe mayor Tom Marflak and Dan Rooney presented each other gifts
as part of the festivities. Rooney presented Marflak with a Super Bowl game ball.
With Jerome Bettis retired, Hines Ward is the emotional leader of
the world champions. As he took the field, my Sirius Radio partner,
Tim Ryan, noticed he had something taped to his helmet. None of the
other players had anything taped to their helmets, not even the
rookies. It looked like a name tag like most high school football
players would wear when they go to summer camp.
Tim went down to the field to find out what it said, and when he
came back, I got those goose bumps once again. It said "Hines Ward,"
and when Tim asked him why the name tag, he said, "It's a new year,
and I'm not taking it off until I make the team." Can you imagine
what those young high school football players at the scrimmage
learned from watching the best team in the world? I can: Humility.
Take nothing for granted and go to work.
I went up into the Latrobe Memorial Stadium press box for a minute
and there was the voice of the Steelers, in a 100-degree heat,
giving every single fan in the stands the feeling they were at Heinz
Field for a big game. No air conditioning, no fans to keep the booth
cool, just a guy exciting the fans with his call of the practice.
Joey Porter isn't ready to practice, but he did get in a workout at the field by running a few laps and showing the Steelers fans he will be ready for the season opener against the Dolphins on Sept. 7. Speaking of showing the fans he is also ready, "Big" Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to throw against a good Steelers rush, slide to his left to avoid the rush, and hit Hines Ward with a beautiful throw at the sideline for a first down. It looked like Ward has a good chance to make the team after that catch!
I really never understood why every single person in Pittsburgh wears Steelers clothes everywhere they go. But after my night watching Mr. Rooney turn back the hands of time for three hours, I finally get it.
When I get to the Steelers training facility in the morning, I have been invited to watch the tapes of the scrimmage, sit down with Bill Cowher on my Sirius Radio show, and hopefully will get to shake Mr. Rooney's hand for an experience every football person needs to have in his lifetime.