The Steelers are roughly five weeks away from arriving at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., for yet another summer of training camp in preparation for the 2022 regular season. Speaking of preparation, Pittsburgh is about seven weeks away from playing its first tune-up game, which is to say a preseason affair against the Seahawks at Heinz Field on August, 13.
I’ve been to both events more than a few times in the past—training camp practices and preseason games—but I just can’t decide which one is more appealing.
It’s common for me to get an invite or two to training camp once practices open up to the public, and I always get offered free tickets to preseason games.
Will I attend one or both events this year, and which one will I enjoy more?
Training camp is a rather chill affair for me, mainly because I normally go by myself (I never said I accept the invites to go with other people, other than when children ask me to take them, of course—I’m not a total monster, but they have to pay for everything, including gas and tolls).
Preseason games are another matter. Sure, the outcome is fake, but everything else is like a real game. The beer is the same price as it is at a real game. Parking is the same price. The whines from the children to buy them hotdogs and jerseys are just as loud and annoying. I can go on, but I won’t. I realize I usually get offered a free ticket to a preseason game, but after spending money on beer, parking and a jersey just to say, “Thanks,” I may as well have financed a new car.
What about accommodations?
Let’s face it, for as much as I love the late, great Chuck Noll, the stands at his field are always full. I seriously have not been able to sit on those bleachers since 2009, and I often go during the week. Don’t people have jobs? Are they at camp while on vacation? Anyway, the lack of available seats at Chuck Noll Field means I have to try and pop a squat on that painful hillside. And it’s just not painful, either. I always feel like I’m sliding down the hill, and I constantly have to readjust my “squat.” What about the heat? Wow. It’s one thing to work out in that kind of heat while wearing 20 pounds of football equipment. Try sitting there bored out of your mind while the sun is beating down on your semi-bald head, and you’re listening to other fans clamor for Jordan Dangerfield’s autograph—no disrespect to him, I tell ya’, no disrespect at all.
Preseason games are much better when it comes to seating. I know I have a seat going in because that’s part of the deal when you buy (or are given a free) ticket. The seats are comfortable enough. Yes, it might be rather hot, but at least these “games” usually occur in the evening. Yeah, but what about always having to move my “squat” because that big guy three seats down won’t stop getting up to go buy “cotton candy”? The struggle is real.
What I really like to do when I’m at a training camp practice or a preseason game is just sit and talk to someone.
But if I do go to training camp with someone, like my nine-year-old niece back in 2018, all they want to do is talk about JuJu Smith-Schuster. “Where’s JuJu?” “Do you think I can get JuJu’s autograph?” “Do you think JuJu will do the floss dance?” She had no desire to learn anything about her uncle that day. My nickname is T.J. Did she want my autograph? Did she ask me how many sacks I recorded while playing for the Sheraden Vikings back in 1984? No. I still can’t believe I drove her back home.
Preseason games are actually better for sitting around and shooting the breeze. But nobody is interested in talking to you there, either, unless you’re in their section with a ticket you got from a friend. Then, it’s the Spanish Inquisition, “How do you know Bill? Good guy. He ain’t coming? What’s he doing, loafin’?” It’s like when you park near someone’s house, and the owner comes out and asks, “Can I help you?” No, you can’t, person who doesn’t own the street around your house.
I never know what I’m watching while at a training camp practice—it could be a drill, or it could be stretching.
I never know who I’m watching while at a preseason game—it could be Jordan Dangerfield, or it could be Rodney.
Oh well, it’s hard to say which event is better, but at least JuJu won’t be around to take attention away from me this year.