The last two seasons the big question around this time of year was whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers would be holding training camp at their typical location, Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, or if they would be holding it at their southside UPMC Rooney Sports Complex/Heinz Field?
In 2020, it seemed obvious the NFL’s protocols wouldn’t allow the team to travel away from their facility. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t as if they wouldn’t be able to travel, but there wouldn’t be fans there.
As we all know, the Steelers elected to stay in Pittsburgh.
Fast forward to 2021, and while protocols still existed, it seemed like a good chance the team would be back in Latrobe for their annual summer session.
As we all know, the Steelers stayed in Pittsburgh.
It was around this time I was wondering if the Steelers genuinely valued their trip to Saint Vincent College? Sure, it’s all some coaches/players knew since they became a part of the organization, but did the past two seasons in Pittsburgh have them second-guessing their stance on going away for training camp?
Other teams used to travel and have since decided to just stay at their home facility. The Baltimore Ravens used to travel to McDaniel, formerly Western Maryland, College, but now stay in their Owing Mills facility. Baltimore isn’t the only team who has elected to just stay close to home.
On top of that, fans have heard Mike Tomlin wax poetic about how the team values their time at Saint Vincent. The camaraderie, the bonding, the work put in at all hours. He made it sound as if it was a missing piece of the team’s puzzle as they prepare for the regular season. After two years away, I, for one, was starting to wonder if that was all nothing but lip service.
Much to my surprise, and enjoyment, the Steelers announced they will be heading back to Saint Vincent College this summer.
But this got me thinking about their trip to Latrobe. Do the Steelers really value/need Saint Vincent? Or is it just something nice for the fans to get an up-close-and-personal look at their favorite football team. A chance to get a few autographs on some memorabilia.
To be honest, when I see the list of players who have never experience a training camp away from Pittsburgh, I feel the team will benefit from getting back to the dorm rooms.
This was from Dave Schofield’s article here at BTSC regarding the news of the Steelers heading back to Latrobe this summer:
In being away for two seasons for training camp, the Steelers only have 22 players currently on the roster who have been a training camp in Latrobe. Out of 74 players currently on the roster, that leaves the Steelers with less than 30% of their players who have attended training camp at Saint Vincent College. If the Steelers do not sign any other players who have been at Latrobe, such as Terrell Edmunds, this number means that more than three-quarters of the players once the Steelers fill out the complete 90-man offseason roster will have never stayed at Saint Vincent for Steelers training camp.
Obviously, Edmunds was brought back on a reported one-year deal, but the fact remains only 23 players on the current roster have experienced a camp in Latrobe. Only 23 players have gone through the sweat of a workout, only to have no reprieve from each other. To be forced into an environment where the only thing you eat, sleep and drink is football.
There will be those fans who don’t think it matters. How this is all for the fans and nothing more. You might be right, but if you’ve ever gone away for a camp in your life. For anything, not just sports, you know the value it brings to the entire experience. The experience in and of itself is different.
To me, there is value in the Steelers going away for training camp. Do they need Saint Vincent College? We’ll have to see how things pan out in 2022, but after the past two seasons I think it is safe to say going back to the friendly confines in Latrobe can’t be considered a negative at this juncture.
(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)