Friday, July 29, 2016

Steelers camp opens? Yawn and double yawn


By Mark Madden
http://www.timesonline.com/sports
July 29, 2016




Steelers training camp is underway at Latrobe. I won’t be going.
I like Sharky’s. A lot.
Sweltering under the hot sun at St. Vincent College, not so much.
I understand the ceremonial aspect: A new Steelers season is here, and it’s time to get excited despite the two marijuana suspensions. (Le'Veon Bell lied, BTW.)
But some oddball stuff takes place at Steelers camp, mostly courtesy of Yinzer Nation. To quote Judge Smails, “Don’t you people have homes?”
Some fans go to Steelers training camp all day, every day. GET JOBS.
They got cheap coolers, often made of Styrofoam.
They got lawn chairs, or chaise lounges.
They watch what happens as if they might see something the paid experts don’t: “Hey, that undrafted free agent from Thiel College just made a nice block. Ain’t he from Crafton?”
Fifteen minutes later, that player gets cut. And keeps getting cut, so many times it’s a wonder he doesn’t bleed to death.
Yeah, Markus Wheaton just made a nice catch. In a drill. At half-speed. Against a cornerback who will soon be bagging groceries. Why did you need to see it?
You see adult autograph seekers at Latrobe. Talk about flushing dignity.
You see parents drag small children around in 100-degree weather.
You see men wearing tight tank tops who shouldn’t.
You see women expose their midriffs who shouldn’t.
You see every variety of Steelers merchandise, the older the better: Jack Lambert jerseys. Terry Bradshaw jerseys. Mean Joe Greene jerseys.
The ‘70s ended 36 years ago, and the Steelers long since have one for the thumb. But yoi, Steeler-mania!
The nuttiness primarily exists away from the field, but not totally.
Each camp has X amount of undrafted free agents who have zero chance to make the team but try way too hard, like Rudy in the movie of the same name.
The veteran players would never admit it, but they hate those guys. Who wants some no-hope jamoke ringing your bell six weeks before the season starts?
Training camp lasts far too long. It should be cut in half. NFL teams should play half as many preseason games. Two, not four.
But that’s half as much money from ticket sales generated by games the players don’t get paid for. The season-ticket holders always purchase exhibition ducats. They don't have a choice.
Football players take care of their bodies year-round. They don’t forget how to play during a single off-season. They need minimal preseason work.
Ben Roethlisberger is 34. He’s been in the NFL since 2004 and started 169 games. He will barely play in the exhibitions, and he’ll still play far too much.
Camp is yet another example of too much football. Coaches imagine the game to be far more precise than it is. Coaches also overrate their own importance.
The learning curve in football is extremely overrated. I could learn the entire Steelers playbook in two days. No sweat, and no doubt.
The Steelers are a veteran team with plenty of experience. The less reps, the better. The less wear and tear, the better. The less injuries, the better.
Hey, is Maurkice Pouncey out for the season yet?
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

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