Archive for category Uncategorized

JW!

Posted by on Monday, 4 November, 2019

Not Ready for Prime time players

Posted by on Tuesday, 10 September, 2019

And now…

Posted by on Saturday, 7 September, 2019

2019 Steelers “Not so predictable” Predictions

Posted by on Tuesday, 3 September, 2019

For fun, I figure we can make some “different” predictions here for the upcoming season. 3 each…Good luck!

Here are mine

  1. Zach Banner will catch a TD pass
  2. Mason Rudolph will start 2 games (hopefully the last game)
  3. Terrell Edmunds will make the ProBowl

Non-Football Related

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

Friday Night Lights

Posted by on Wednesday, 7 August, 2019

Come (Fantasy) Camping – The End

Posted by on Friday, 21 June, 2019

Sunday morning they offered religious services for those who wanted to attend. Craig Wolfley would actually lead the non-denominational service himself. I slept in. I have no idea what attendance was like. Sunday was also the “combine competition” between the teams. I did not get all “geared up” like I did for Saturday. Between my hamstring and my general soreness, I did not plan on participating. I arrived at the cafeteria and found only 3 others at my table. 2 of them were completely hung over…the guys from Chicago. They talked about Sharkey’s and said after breakfast they were going back to bed. I guess they were not going to be of any help at the combine. I finished up and walked down to the field. Before I got hurt, I had wanted to compete in the WR competition. They would set the jugs machine to throw deep passes into the endzone. I thought this would be pretty cool.

 

I arrived down on the field and looked around for my team. Not finding anyone, I came across the guy who iced down the same time I did with the trainers. We got to talking. He was from the Philly area and his wife was in education too. We exchanged numbers, he was planning on definitely coming next year. The combine competition was about to begin. About the only thing I thought I’d be able to do was the QB challenge. I had hoped it would be a little more elaborate then a blow-up target with holes. It was the same one they use at the Steelers Fan Fest. I checked in with the intern running the event and no one from my team had entered. It started to rain a bit, they thought they might have to shut down the event due to the electric used to keep the target inflated. Hearing this I quickly jumped towards the front of the line. I would go third. There were several target holes, but I knew I would go for the 20 point one, the toughest one. There would be 4 throws. I did receive one warm up throw, it went too high. No problem. I got the distance. The first throw that counted went right into the hole, and somehow bounced out! I said, is this one of those carnival game where the ball doesn’t actually fit through? I was assured it would. Second throw, a little to the left…but the nose of the ball again made the target hole. Frustrated, this time I put more mustard on it. It went high. But it was very close. I took a little off on my last throw. It was almost the same exact results as the first. I got a nice little round of applause since I was pretty damn accurate. I just turned around and said, well if it were darts, I would have had a nice grouping. Disappointed I couldn’t rack up any points, and with the rain falling harder, I headed back to the dorms to pack up before the final gathering. Sure enough who joined me in the walk back? Tunch Ilkin. He joked, he spent plenty of time at St Vincent as both a player and with his radio show. He could just look up and tell if heavy rain was coming in. He said as a player they loved it to cool them off, while hosting his show…not so much.

I packed up my stuff and went to load the car. I had to shake my head and laugh at myself when I got there. Apparently, I got so caught up with meeting Dawson when I first arrived I never rolled up the driver’s side window. Two major rain storms went through Latrobe that weekend, and all of it seemed to go through that window. Luckily it was my wife’s car! On my next trip back to the car I brought towels from the dorm to dry everything off. My wife would find these towels a few days later in the back seat and I had to confess. I went back and dropped off the dorm key. I had the same feeling I had when I left college for good in 1988. I drove the car over to the reception area for one last gathering.

 

I saw the guy I talked to from the field earlier, and he invited me over to his table. There was another guy there too, he was from Ohio. He had been to the camp a few times before. Wolfley started the festivities by saying they had a lost and found and accumulated quite a few lost items. I shouted out “Did you find my hamstring?” That got a pretty good laugh from the crowd. Lunch was served buffet style. I will say the food was good all weekend long. I settled back at the table and they were raffling off autographed memorabilia. One of the items that came up was a Cam Heyward autographed helmet. The numbers were read, nope not even close. However, I barely had time to dwell in my disappointment as the next item, a Jerome Bettis autographed helmet matched my ticket number! Damn, I won something. As I went up to grab my prize, I had an idea. Maybe the guy who won the Heyward helmet would want to swap. I went over and asked, but I am not sure he believed me. He was definitely getting the better of the deal. His friend next to him said take it, you are getting a Hall of Fame’r. I showed the guy my Facebook profile pic of me in my Heyward jersey. I actually wore that jersey the first night at camp too. The guy eventually switched, but I got a sense he either thought he was being taken, he really didn’t care, or had no idea who Heyward or Bettis were. Anyway, I got the helmet I wanted.

It was all soon over, and the gentleman who runs the Fantasy Camp for the Steelers closed it out with “see you all again next year”. With that, I said my goodbyes to the guys at my table. I prepped myself for the long ride home. God, I hate the GW Bridge.

Come (Fantasy) Camping – Part VI

Posted by on Wednesday, 19 June, 2019

I arrived back at the dorm and there was already a line for the showers. No big deal, I had saved my ice in one of the sinks, I could ice for a while and let others go. I stripped down to shorts and a T-shirt. Yes, took off my cleats and socks and the toes looked perfectly fine. I placed ice in all the necessary areas. Eventually I hobbled into the shower…let the water run on me for quite a while and hardly moved. That evening Rod Woodson was the guest speaker. I brought my Woodson gear. I chose my Sandknit Jersey I bought back when I went to my first game in Pittsburgh back in 1990. The same time I bought that poster. Also, on that trip we went to Woodson’s Grille. I still had a T-shirt from back then. I would wear that underneath the jersey. Most of the guys had already left, so I made my way to the cafeteria on my own…poster in tow.

 

Again, we would sit at our competition team’s table. A few guys were missing so we hoped they went to do the Trivia challenge which they held Saturday evening. Let’s just say the guys who were the veterans at the table were not exactly team leaders. One thing they did bring to the table…literally…was Tunch Ilkin. Apparently over the years they had gotten to know him. They would seek him out when they went to games, home and away. They would call into his show and were regulars. These guys were from Chicago and even brought Tunch a deep-dish pizza when he was doing his show locally when the Steelers played the Bears. Tunch brought over a full plate, I said, still eating like a lineman. He said, this is nothing. He bowed his head and said a low but audible grace. Tunch started to tell stories, mostly non-football. Family, places to go in the different cities. He did say, and I heard him say it a few times over the weekend, the team is better off without AB. For whatever he brought to the field, his change in demeanor, he was no longer worth it. Tunch almost seemed angry about it…like AB let him down. Eventually he did talk about his football days. Since the guys he knew were from Chicago, he talked about the times he played the Bears. How as a lineman, in 1986, he had to face the Superbowl Champ Bears D…which was no easy task. He said they played them tough and lost in OT (I checked, they did). He talked about the ’89 team and felt it was special one. He thought fate was on their side, until it wasn’t. He talked about the rain game against Miami. How after being tackled, Mike Mularky almost drowned in a puddle when the D didn’t get off him right away. I hated to leave, but I wanted to get a good seat to see Rod Woodson talk. I excused myself from the table. Tunch must have lost track of time too. He was like Geez, I got a get moving.

I grabbed a couple of Bud Lite Limes and settled in to a third-row seat. Each of the players would speak. I did not know that, so this was a nice surprise. First up was Shaun Suisham. Suisham, oh Shaun Suisham. He is my favorite now. Apparently, Friday night he was one of the many who went out to Sharkey’s. He started with asking us to remember how instead of “Heads Up” on an errant punt I told you to yell “Peter”? Well, let me tell you a story. Suisham got back late to the dorms, possible the last one arriving. He also stayed in an RA room and was part of another pod. When he got back he saw this guy was wandering around looking for his room. Well, there are only 10 rooms to choose from. That, and the number is on the key and the door. Suisham said this guy was staggering around, drunk off his ass, bouncing off the walls. Suisham led him to his room, opened the door for him, and “poured” him in. Suisham asked him what his name was…he responded Peter. So, any punt off in the wrong direction now would be called out with “Peter”. With that, Suisham raised his cup and said let’s drink to Peter. Suisham went on to toast a few dozen, yes, dozen, different things. I quickly went through my two beers. It definitely set a good mood for the rest of the evening.

Lipps was up. He talked about coming up from the south with everything he owned. He was determined to make his mark. He busted his ass in the now defunct two a days. He wanted to prove himself and he volunteered for a drill every chance he got. He said one practice he was pulled aside by Calvin Sweeney. He told Lipps you don’t need to run all these drills, you’re a first-round pick, you’ve got the team made. Lipps said, I don’t have this team made until I am told I made the team. I am taking nothing for granted. I am going to go out and show them the player I am. I guess that is why Lipps was Lipps and Calvin Sweeney was, well, Calvin Sweeney. Lipps did lament that the team did not draft Marino. I guess he had nightmares of Malone, Woodley, Campbell, Bono and Brister. Later Woodson would say the same thing about drafting Marino. I said to the guys sitting next to me, if Marino was drafted in 1983, me might not have been in a position to draft Lipps and Woodson…we would have had a better record. I don’t think they understood my point…lol. Dwayne Woodruff was next. He talked about how he stepped in as a rookie onto a 3-time Superbowl winning team. All the talent around him was amazing. He said he kind of got his swagger from these guys. They came to play, and you were not going to push them around. He said he tried to carry that into the 80’s as the guys retired, but unfortunately the talent level was just not there.

 

Chris Hoke talked about the time in training camp Big Snack failed to finish the initial camp run and was placed on the PUP list. He still thinks Hampton did that on purpose, so he didn’t have to start camp. Dermontti Dawson talked about the “energy pills” the 80’s team took. My first thought was maybe that 80’s team should have taken better pills. He said one game he took the wrong dosage…and was basically stoned. He couldn’t remember the line calls at all. Wolfley had to make them instead. Noll thought Dawson had a concussion. The players knew better. I thought this was an interesting topic and admission. Woodson, Lipps and Dawson all chimed in about taking them.  Then came Arthur Moats. Moats, well, was the same boisterous Moats he was on the field. He told a story about how when his Alma Mater James Madison trounced Tomlin’s William & Mary, he snuck into his office and filled it with James Madison gear, pennants and such. He said, after that, anytime they needed a body for a drill, coach said, Hey, James Madison get in there. I wish Tomlin did that for the Jacksonville playoff game instead of putting in Spence.

Now it was Woodson’s turn. The main event. He said to the crowd, raise your hand if you can name the QB his first interception was against and he would give that person a signed Woodson jersey. I was like, how do I NOT know this. A few seconds later a hand shot up and Woodson pointed at him. Boomer Esiason. Correct! NOW, how did I REALLY not know that!!! Oh well. Woodson went on to describe the play. He said he high stepped and pointed as he took it all the way for a TD. When he got to the sidelines, Joe Greene, a coach then, said…Son, we don’t do that here in Pittsburgh. Woodson sheepishly said, Yes Sir, Mr. Greene, Sir. I need to look up that highlight now. Woodson also said when he got there, he thought he was the best punt returner ever. Then he saw Lipps do it, catch balls behind his back in practice, all his moves..and Rod was humbled. It was a nice shout out to Lipps. You forget how good Lipps was. He told a few different stories about how Cowher would treat the stars differently. He would tell them, I am going to yell at you in front of some of the other guys. If they see me yell at you, then they’ll be like, damn, if coach yells at them, I need to get my act together. Then Woodson went on to tell  us a story about another “rod”. In 1987 Woodson went in the first round but held out. So, 1988 was his first camp at St. Vincent. One of the new guys was Aaron Jones, a first-round pick that year. Woodson’s first encounter with Aaron Jones was in the shower. As Woodson was telling this story, he took a step back, dropped the microphone downwards between his legs, and looked down stunned. He said he never wanted to shower with Jones again, he’d never be secure about his manhood. Eventually word got out around the players. Some didn’t want to shower with Jones, others had to see for themselves. At the time they had a head trainer who was known for his sarcasm. One day, outside the shower when Aaron Jones was in there, he took out a big black dildo, stuck it to the wall and wrote Aaron Jones underneath. Proceed with caution. I yelled out Jones picked the wrong career! Soon Rod wrapped up his talk and it was time for autographs. I got in line as fast as my sore muscles could get me there. I showed Rod the poster and he hadn’t seen it either. He signed it but I wish he added HOF 09 to it though. I showed him my Woodson’s Grille T-shirt and he was shocked it was in such good shape. I also showed him a photo of my locker room with his memorabilia that resides in my man-cave. I told him his restaurant, which had lockers set up like that, was the inspiration. He thanked me for being a fan, I shook his hand and off I went.

 

Again, others rallied to go to Sharky’s. This time I seriously considered it. But if I didn’t want to stay, I wasn’t sure how easy it was to get back to St. Vincent. Besides I had a long drive ahead of me tomorrow. I called it a night.

 

 

Come (Fantasy) Camping – Part V

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 June, 2019

I arrived down at the field. I looked around and felt I must have gotten down there early because it was half empty. But not long after, the Steelers exercise coach from the morning session called us over to warm up. Where is everyone? It would seem a good portion of the “campers” did not return. Whether it was too much from the morning drills…or too much from Sharkey’s the night before. These were the same drills as the morning ones. I went through them a little more gingerly this time. I was using it as a gauge to see what I could and couldn’t do. Once I felt it was too much I stopped. I did make it through about ¾ of the warmup routines.

 

Our first session would be with the D-Line and Chris Hoke. He recognized me from the autograph session since I had the same type of gold jersey on I had him autograph. He joked how many of these did I have? We went through the ladder drills, forward and sideways. Then he had a competition, between lined up pairs. Through the ladder and sprint to the finish. Sprint? Hell, I’ll try. The ladder part was easy for me. After I got out of it, the sprint was the issue. I had a noticeable limp. However, each time I beat my man since I had a good lead out of the ropes. Next up they put out the tackle dummies. We would have to weave through three of them and swat them as we went by, then hit the QB. The QB was Hoke’s son holding a blocking pad. Each guy in front of me hit the tackle dummy like it was made of fine china. I was determined to kick the shit out of the dummies. Each one I hit went all the way to the ground, I got through them with decent speed and didn’t lose my balance. Hoke’s son must have seen my anger hitting the dummies because when I got to him, he was about 10 yds further back then with the other guys. I just tapped the pad as he backed up and returned to the line. We went through these dummies with different moves, swim move, bull rush etc. I was ready to go up against Dawson’s O-Line team. However, we were informed due to the amount of injuries earlier, that part was cancelled for the afternoon. Oh well. So instead I got a picture with Hoke. What was funny is I texted it to my wife. Hoke lost so much weight from his playing days Christina thought it was the kicker, Suisham.

Our next session would be with Dwayne Woodruff and the DB’s. He spoke with us and was all business. He really coached. Someone asked him if he had one guy who gave him trouble in his career. He simply said, no one. He did acquiesce and say, well, Art Monk. He said he was one of the most physical receivers he had to play against. I said, well before Hines Ward. The first drill he had us do was to track the deep ball. We lined up in two lines across and opposite each other. Once again 2 QB’s were needed. This time both knew how to throw. You would run deep. The QB would throw the ball out in front of you and you had to track it and catch it. The first one I ran down perfectly, but I had no burst. Luckily, he hung it up there, but that was really the idea. I headed over to the other line. Same results, but this time I pushed it a little and the hamstring was none the worse. Good sign. Woodruff then set us up for the next drill. We would back pedal 5 yds looking directly at the QB. Once the QB turned his shoulders we would break that way to intercept the ball. If we caught it, take it to the house! My first time through, once the QB turned, I had to break to the right. I caught it in my mid-section and began to take it to the end zone.  Woodruff noticed my catch and stopped me. He said I needed to cut in more, if a receiver were there, he would have been in front of me. I had one more go at the current drill. I back peddled and this time the QB went to the left. I cut in on an angle like Woodruff told me. However, the ball sailed high. I had to break back but I got to it and caught the end of the football. I spun and ran the INT back. It would seem the Steeler’s photographer got a picture of the best catch of the day (well, according to me).

We ran the same drill but with a guy from our group playing WR. We still were just watching the QB though. I sat this one out after my catch. Why mess with perfection(and a sore hamstring)! A few more runs through this drill and we headed over to cover the WR’s being coached by Lipps.  Although we were just watching the QB’s, Woodruff gave us another piece of advice. When the receiver cuts, watch the receiver’s head. If he doesn’t look back, or is not worried about looking back, he is taking the route deep, don’t jump on the route. Great piece of advice. The Tennessee guy was our best, so he went first. The WR turned his head, he jumped the route…he dropped an easy INT though. Next time, the receiver did the same thing. This time he held onto the INT. The rest of our group was not that good. The WR group had a guy who thought he was in a real camp. He blew passed the lesser guys. One of our team shouted at him, they are not giving out contracts today. This guy never lined up against the Tennessee guy. Sad he couldn’t handle better competition. After a few reps I decided to give it a shot. I saw another #62 (not that unusual as a few had that number because of Ilkin). I watched the WR’s head. As he cut to the right he turned to look back. I went to jump the route…and my legs had no burst. Earlier in the day I might have gotten to the ball. I arrived instead after he caught it. I lined up on him a second time. This time I knew he would not go deep. Didn’t matter. He cut to the left with the same results. I joked, I am ready to be a Steeler CB. Each time I was there to “tackle the catch”. It was fun, but a little disheartening. I would have liked to be more competitive in this drill. At least I made the other guy look good!

 

The final session was with the LB’s and Arthur Moats. All during the day you could hear that group throughout the field. LOUD! I would find out why. Moats gave us his rules. First off, we act as a team. We answer as a team. And we answer LOUD! For example, Are you ready? You’d shout back YES! How are you feeling? GREAT! Also, if you were not running the drill, you were clapping and encouraging your teammate through it. Also, if someone failed at the drill, we would have to do 5 of whatever callisthenic was chosen. Win as a team, lose as a team. Also, no walking to the next drill. Run. We did the ladder drill again, but this time at the end they threw the ball at you to catch. Forward, sideways. Then we had agility drills around the stakes. Go forward, go around, run backwards to the next, then forward and so on. Then they set up the pads for us to run around. Again, forward through one, backwards through the next. The final drill was to bend down and smack the pads as you go by, all 4 of them on the ground. Then get the ball thrown at you when you finished. My first time through I didn’t realize I had moved my sunglasses to the top of my head. They went flying when I bent down and hit the first pad. Of course, they bounced right in the way of the second pad. Not wanting to fail and cause anyone to do callisthenics, in one motion I bent down, grabbed the glasses, flipped them out of the way, smacked the second pad and finished the drill. Moats said, nice improvise! After the drill I gathered my sunglasses. I picked out the cutest intern to hold them for me. I hurt my hamstring, not my libido. During all of these drills, anytime someone accidentally kicked a pad or dropped a ball, we did 5 of his choice. Jumping jacks, push-ups, squat jumps (whatever the hell that was). We must have done several rounds of each. I am happy to report none where my fault. The whistle sounded to end it all. Moats had us sprint to the end of the field and back. I finished dead last lol. I went to get my sunglasses from the intern. She obviously saw me limping and asked if I was ok. I told her my story, she was impressed I made it through. She pointed out what I already knew. A lot of guys bailed on the afternoon session. I went over to Moats to thank him for pushing us all, especially me. He had pointed out a few times to the other guys, if the guy with the bad knee can do it, you better do it. I told him I don’t think I could have made it through the last session without that. A handshake and a couple of cool photos then took place. What a great guy.

All the groups gathered at midfield and we were told, specifically told..lol, to go shower and then meet back in the cafeteria for dinner. Luckily, I still had plenty of ice left back in the dorm.

 

Mike Walsh – Fantasy Camp Warrior

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 June, 2019