Thin Air (Steelers Training Camp Blog 2010)

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Mile High is mile high because it’s a stadium that sits at an altitude of a mile high in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains in Denver. That’s the dizzying logic i bring each and every day to the Locker Room with Tunch Ilkin on Foxsportsradio 970.

But the reality of the dizzying logic is in the dizzying reality. Because that’s what you experience when you play a football game at that altitude. Though Chuck Noll repeatedly told us that if we were in Denver less than 24-48 hours, we’d be unaffected, one trip through pre-game warmups told me otherwise.

“Chuck lied!” I said to strength and conditioning coach Walt Evans as we came off the field after pre-game, back in 1984, my first trip to the vapor lock that was the old Mile High stadium. “I can’t catch my breath, ” I wheezed. Walt just laughed.

I sucked down more oxygen from the sideline air tank during the game than the great French diver Jacque Cousteau exploring the “Cayman Trench.”

I don’t find it any great wonder that Kyle Orton, QB of the Broncos, specializes in short quick passing. Routes and screens that keep a defense having to defend the entire field. And keep a defense running sideline to sideline. It wouldn’t have to do anything at all with the thin air would it?

Naw, no NFL coach would try to exploit a home field advantage like that, would they?

Besides that, players are now doing the head count thing. They’re looking around the meeting room and figuring how many will they keep? After months of young bucks being told by their coaches not to get caught up in numbers, they are now counting heads like a gambler counting cards in Vegas.

Tune in to the Steelers Radio Network broadcast Sunday night from Invesco Stadium at Mile High in Denver. I just might take a few hits off the oxygen tank for old times sake.