July 4th and Steelers Training Camp

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I watched in awe as the grand finale of fireworks complete with music lit up downtown Pittsburgh. Standing on the top deck of one of the Gateway Clippers fleet of boats, anchored down by the Point, i had a great view of the July 4th celebration. This was back in the late 80’s. As soon as the final crescendo echoed off into the distance, my mind began to drift. Less than two weeks to go. To Steelers training camp that is.

Training camp is on every NFL players mind right now. Maybe not with the same intensity or “Fear Factor” that camp used to have. But it is for sure a frown creasing every players face when someone brings up the subject. For those of us in the Chuck Noll era, prior to free agency and a salary cap, training camp was like checking into a death sentence. The July 4th celebration was the last time I permitted myself to enjoy life. I would always reason that I could relax over the Independence Day celebration and then think about camp. But as soon as the final boom-booms wound down, that sinking feeling of camp being “Right around the corner” would rear its ugly head.

Tunch Ilkin and I adopted an old redneck TV show song from Hee-Haw and we used to sing it in the car, as we drove to camp:

“Gloom, despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on me.”