In Latrobe, Pa., on the campus of St. Vincent College. If you've read my postcards in the past few years from here, you know I love the place. It's the perfect training-camp setting, looking out over the rolling hills of the Laurel Highlands in west-central Pennsylvania, an hour east of Pittsburgh. On a misty or foggy morning, standing atop the hill at the college, you feel like you're in Scotland. The Arnold Palmer regional airport is across the state highway from the school. Classic, wonderful slice of Americana. If you can visit one training camp, this is the one to see.
1. The Steelers are one of the most compelling teams in football less than a month before the start of the season. Will
2. Two Benedictine monks from the St. Vincent Archabbey watched practice this afternoon. Common sight here, always, the monks in their long, flowing robes, despite the heat, with sandals. They walk over to the practice fields from the seminary or the beautiful basilica. To me, walking around this place is one of the great traditions of the NFL camp tour.
Uh, I know this is the template for the NFL postcard. But allow me to start this section over and call it "The Steeler Alumni Association Strikes Again.'' Among the men in camp who returned to some past glory -- or in a couple of cases, some past irrelevance -- are wide receiver
Roethlisberger approaching me outside the cafeteria, where media interviews are done at lunchtime, and saying, "Do you need me?'' Then giving me 10 minutes,
Sometimes you just want a bowl of chili. That was my lunch in the Steeler cafeteria at St. Vincent -- good ol' American chili, with ground beef, chock-full of red beans, moderately spicy, with oyster crackers on top. And a salad with romaine, iceberg, cherry tomatoes, cukes and carrots, with Italian dressing. This cafeteria is not filled with the high quality choices of some others -- say, like the Giants -- but that was one welcome bowl of chili. Grade: B-plus.
1. Roethlisberger is signing scores of autographs daily, and I heard not one single boo or untoward remark from the crowds around the practice fields toward him. "The fans -- unbelievable,'' he told me. "The other night [in the preseason opener against Detroit] I didn't play, but I heard them chant, 'We want Ben.' Something like that means an awful lot.'' He's on a second honeymoon with the fans, from the looks of it.
2. Most popular Steelers with the fans: 1. Polamalu; 2.
5. Upstart camp guy Steelers are trying to find a spot for: wideout/special-teamer