The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to do something that not many NFL teams do anymore. Travel away from their facility for their yearly training camp.
It has been 49 years since the Steelers have made their first yearly expedition to St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA to spend a few weeks bonding, learning and working to forge a team that is capable of bringing home another championship to the city of Pittsburgh. Training camp is more than just a time for players to get away from the comfort of their homes, it is a chance for the fans to get an up close and personal view of their favorite NFL team.
The Steelers put on a top notch training camp. You know this if you've ever been, and if you haven't you are strongly encouraged to make the trip to Latrobe as soon as possible. Fans are treated well, given up close and personal moments with their favorite NFL superstars and normally are able to snag an autograph or two in the process.
Seeing how accommodating the Steelers are, it is equally as frustrating to see more and more NFL teams choose not to leave their home facility; therefore, limiting their access to the fans and the fan experience.
I get it, the NFL is all about winning. Only one team can hoist the Lombardi trophy this winter, but is staying at home a huge advantage over your opponents who might be traveling elsewhere for their training camp? I can't think it would make a huge difference.
Currently, 13 of the 32 NFL teams either use their home stadium or their home training facility for training camp. Granted, that is less than half, but that number grows by the year, making what the Steelers do at St. Vincent College more and more unique.
Going to St. Vincent College is almost like stepping back in time. You can picture Chuck Noll roaming the fields coaching up those great Steelers teams of the 70's, you can hear Bill Cowher yelling at players demanding more out of them, and now you get to see Mike Tomlin and his band of brothers take the field and work to improve their trade before another great season of Steelers football kicks off.
There is a mystique about Latrobe during training camp, and that comes from the venue and the fans' ability to get a front row seat to watch their team work. It is a shame the going trend in the NFL is for teams to simply stay home.