In news that I never thought would be so incredibly disappointing to people before the advent of social media, the Steelers announced last week that they won’t be conducting their annual training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. for the second summer in a row.
I think the reason has to do with the facilities at St. Vincent not being up to snuff in terms of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.
Anyway, below is a quote from Steelers team spokesman Burt Lauten, last week, shortly after the decision was made:
“We are disappointed we won’t be holding our 2021 training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. We were prepared to safely host training camp on campus with fans, but unfortunately, our plan was not approved due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.”
While Lauten might be disappointed with the decision, and while many Steelers fans share in that feeling, yours truly is happy.
I have six reasons why.
- I’m under less pressure to go now. Being a Steelers writer, people are always asking if I’m going to camp. “Are you going to camp?” they’ll often ask. Now I have a convenient excuse for not going and can even feign disappointment. “Darn it!” I’ll say while stomping my foot. “Maybe next year.” Don’t get it twisted. It’s not like I hate watching the Steelers do stuff, you see. It’s just that, well, I’m from Pittsburgh. Pittsburghers don’t like to cross bridges to get to the other side of town, let alone drive 40 miles. And what about the tolls I’ll have to pay to and from Latrobe? Who has a million dollars just lying around, burning a hole in their pocket in this day and age?
- I can avoid sitting on that awful grassy hillside. I hate that hillside. You ever try to sit on that hillside at St. Vincent College and watch practice? You spend half the time trying not to slide down onto the field. Do you think I want Cam Heyward kicking my butt for stepping into his football octagon? I’d be fair game the moment I hit the end zone. I suppose a trip to training camp would be a little more tantalizing if I was guaranteed a seat in the bleachers at Chuck Noll Field. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened since 2009—my first camp experience. Since then, it’s been nothing but butt sliding on that hillside.
- I don’t have to pretend like I know what I’m seeing as I watch Pat Freiermuth catch a pass or Chukwuma Okorafor block a dummy—or even one of those inanimate objects that linemen hit to perfect their blocking techniques.
- I don’t have to worry about some college kid waving a sex toy at me as I sit in traffic on Route 30. This actually happened to me on my way home from a trip to training camp back in 2016. As I sat there waiting for the light to change, I looked over at the car to my left and saw this kid waving...well, let’s just call it a weird-looking yardstick. Why he did that, I do not know, but I did make sure to keep my gaze straight ahead until I got back onto the Interstate. Anyway, since someone waving a sex toy at you in traffic is something that only happens once every five years, there’s a good-to-great chance I’ll experience that again, this summer. Therefore, I must avoid Route 30 at all costs.
- As per Lauten, fans will be allowed to attend select training camp practices held at Heinz Field—camp practices will be split between Heinz Field and the team’s facilities on the South Side of Pittsburgh. This is great news! Not only is Heinz Field much closer to me than St. Vincent College, but the stadium has zero grassy hillsides to sit on. I plan on parking my car in the West End of Pittsburgh and walking over. You might be asking, “Well, what if these select practices are only open to season-ticket holders?” “Darn it!” I’ll say while stomping my foot. “Maybe next year.”
- I can avoid the usual dirty looks I often get from other Steelers fans in attendance at St. Vincent when I step in front of little kids so I can be first in line to get JuJu Smith-Schuster’s autograph on the way back to his dorm room. We’ve become soft as a society, and I blame participation trophies.