I realized something today, Steelers training camp is almost over.
Seriously, we only have a few more practices (or even less depending on when this article is published) before fans really start to get angry at Le'Veon Bell for not being there.
If Bell doesn't show up before the team breaks camp, and heads back to Pittsburgh, he and I will have one thing in-common (in-addition to looks, money, fame and generational talent, of course).
You see, despite a token effort or two in the days after the players reported to St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. not even three weeks ago, I won't be making it out to training camp this summer.
Don't feel bad for me, though, because I just don't like it very much.
That's right, I just said that. What kind of Steelers fan am I, you may be type-shouting right about now?
I'm someone who, despite being a die-hard fan since the age of seven, had to be dragged out to Latrobe for the very first time at the age of 37 (and by my then girlfriend, I might add).
There were more trips in subsequent years—including my all-time favorite trip of 2010, my least favorite trip of 2011 and my unemployed trip of 2016.
So what did I learn during my previous four trips to training camp?
- I guess the most important thing I've learned is that if you go with a girlfriend, you must buy food, Steelers-related souvenirs and Steelers-related merchandise.
- Other than that important tidbit, I've learned that head coach Mike Tomlin seems super-excited and focused during every single moment of training camp (I'm pretty sure he doesn't just wait for me to show up). He also appears to really like his players a lot and interacts with them like men and not some intimidating figure who still thinks it's college.
Not bad for a guy who isn't passionate and fiery and stuff.
- During the height of his career—like right after the legendary pick six against the Ravens in the AFC title game and right before he was named 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year—future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polomalu never practiced, at least not when I was there.
And you know what? It didn't seem to matter.
- I learned that, unlike me, a lot of fans actually cherish their training camp experiences and come from far and wide to watch their Steelers prepare for an upcoming season.
During past trips, I struck up conversations with people who were visiting from places such as Cleveland, Minnesota, California and even Mexico.
- During my 2011 trip, I discovered that defensive players are the tough guys and offensive players are the sissies (at least that's what a grandfather pointed out to his young grandson).
- Finally, last season, I learned that St. Vincent College is still a college, as evidenced by the sex toy some frat boy-type flashed at me as I waited in traffic on Route 30 (you know who you are).
Perhaps it's a fortuitous bounce that my 2017 summer will not include a trip to training camp. Why? Because the Steelers held training camps for the first 36 years of my life, and I didn't attend a single one of them.
During that time, the Steelers appeared in seven Super Bowls and won six of them.
Since I started going eight years ago, Pittsburgh has lost a Super Bowl, lost to Tim Tebow and drafted a long-snapper.
In other words, I'm a jinx.
Therefore, me staying away from training camp is a good thing.
Will it lead to a Super Bowl victory as the conclusion to the 2017 season? It's like what Fred Sanford once said about praying: It can't hurt none.