As always, the focus was on the quarterback. The coaches and the other players noticed him, the fans wanted to get close to him, the media wanted a few words with him. Yessir, on Wednesday afternoon at St. Vincent College, all eyes were on the quarterback.
It just wasn?t the quarterback you?d expect.
Terry Bradshaw made his first visit here since 1983. Back then, he was one of the guys toiling in the 90-degree temperatures; on Wednesday he was on hand as part of a tour of NFL training camps for FOX. Even though his visit was unannounced, Steelers fans seem to have a sixth sense when one of their favorite players is present, and Terry Bradshaw definitely is one of their all-time favorite players.
"The last time I was here, whenever I got hurt, I can?t remember," said Bradshaw. "I haven?t missed it. I haven?t missed it. It?s totally different. The fields are awesome. We have a scoreboard up now and everything. Goalposts, too. This is cool, definitely an improvement."
Another thing Bradshaw noticed, just like all players from his generation, is the way training camps have changed in terms of the philosophy regarding two-a-days. Consecutive days with two practices now are rare in the NFL, but when Bradshaw was a player they were the norm.
"We would do the first two weeks in pads, twice a day," said Bradshaw. "But I think now they?ve changed it up, these guys are much bigger, and players, if they?re fatigued, they?re not going to be able to concentrate and they?re going to make a lot of mistakes."
When he was playing, Bradshaw said he often was elected to be the one to ask Chuck Noll for a respite from the grind of two-a-days.
"Sometimes the guys would come to me and say, 'Go talk to your daddy and see if he?ll give us a break,'" said Bradshaw. "I roomed right across from Chuck, so I?d go in ? not a lot I might add ? and say, 'You don?t think we could perhaps maybe have a short day. The guys would really appreciate it.? Occasionally, only occasionally, he would grant it, and it would make me look like a real hero to the guys."
As always, Bradshaw spoke his mind on any topic posed to him.
On Hines Ward?s holdout: "I listened to Donovan McNabb talk about Brett Favre?s comments (regarding the possible holdout of Javon Walker), and I felt the same way Donovan feels. If you want to hold out, it?s your family, it?s your life. How I feel about it is personal, and I?ll keep it to myself, but I always supported the player. If you want to hold out, hold out. Do what you have to do. I?m not going to interfere. If Hines wants to stay out, he has to do when he feels is in his best interests, and whether we like it or not, it?s his decision."
On the possible outcome of Ward?s holdout: "I know the Rooneys pretty good."
On the Steelers? prospects for 2005: "I definitely think the Steelers will be good, but I don?t think they?re going to be 15-1 because there are too many teams are going to be better, too many teams are going to play differently with Ben (Roethlisberger) in there. But I do think Ben will play better. They might be a better football team at 13-3, but I hope they can be 15-1. Realistically, when you lose players ? Hines Ward is still out, questions at guard and tackle, (Plaxico) Burress is gone and there?s a void there, confidence has to be built up with the quarterback and the receivers, the running game is going to be solid if the guard and tackle can play well. There are some questions, but defensively, I think they?re going to be really good."
On motorcycles: "Ride it when you retire. That?s the way I feel. Those things are dangerous."