My favorite time of the Steelers’ offseason has arrived.
I’m talking about that “dead” period between OTAs (Organized Team Activities)/minicamp and the start of Steelers training camp.
Yep, there’s always a huge content void during the second half of June and most of July until the boys report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to prepare for yet another Steelers regular season.
The first day of Steelers training camp in 2023 is July 26, and nothing will be the same when it comes to Steelers news from then until their season wraps up in either January or, for the truly positive pollyannas out there, on February 11, 2024 (the date of Super Bowl LVIII).
But in the six weeks before that, following the final day of last week’s mandatory minicamp on June 15, there will be little tangible news to report on as it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers (provided the Steelers “June Curse” doesn’t strike again.”)
However, Steelers fans being who they are, Steelers media being what it is, and the 24/7/365 obsession with the NFL being what it is, the desire for black-and-gold-related content will still be there.
It used to be that a writer such as myself could use the dead period of the offseason to focus on stories involving Steelers’ history. I could honor heroes from the past who we may have forgotten about. I felt like I had a license to talk about unheralded players from yesteryear, guys who will never be remembered but still contributed to some successful Steelers seasons (Weegie Thompson comes to mind).
Speaking of Weegie Thompson, I may have even written a story or two about the 1984 Pittsburgh Steelers and their unexpected appearance in the AFC Championship Game. What about that wild wildcard win over the Oilers down in the Astrodome on December 31, 1989?
June and July used to be the time of year for such stories, but it’s just not like that anymore. Now, writers (both credentialed and non-credentialed) as well as radio hosts and podcasters try to fill the dead period with nothing but speculation and drama.
- What player said what on some podcast?
- Are there any free agents still on the open market that Pittsburgh should pursue before training camp?
- Can you believe what that numbskull receiver did on TikTok?
In my opinion, this is mostly all garbage. Having said that, I often find myself writing about such speculation and drama. Why? It gets a great reaction. Steelers fans love to speculate. They love to be mad. They love to be outraged. They love to work themselves up into a frenzy over the most ridiculous things (Devin Bush’s stupid joke about a falling cat from two years ago comes to mind).
Steelers fans love to talk about trades and signing free agents.
It simply never stops, not even in June or July.
- I do have some advice: Stop and smell the flowers.
I know I always do. The summer months before training camp are when I begin to fall in love with the Steelers and the NFL all over again.
It’s easy to get jaded when every story involving the Steelers is about Kenny Pickett’s hand size, Matt Canada’s schoolyard offense and Mike Tomlin’s lack of a playoff win since 2017.
It’s easy to get worked into a frenzy over some receiver’s TikTok account (although, I can’t imagine why).
- But revisiting the Steelers’ past will never leave you jaded or outraged.
Even learning about the bad times is comforting because we know that they led to some memorable years.
Go on YouTube and watch Steelers highlight films from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, heck, even the 2000s and 2010s. Take some time dig into some long-form pieces and learn about the 1989 Steelers or to relive the Cowher Years.
Watch those America’s Game films that chronicle every Super Bowl season since the first one. You don’t just have to watch the ones involving the Steelers, either. There are other NFL dynasties and champions to explore and learn about.
What about memorable playoff games involving the Steelers? Those are available in highlight form, as well as in full broadcast form. Check out Steel City Star’s Twitter feed. Check out Ron Lippock’s Steelers Takeaways where you can find interviews from the 1991 Steelers Helper Assistant Water Boy to Super Bowl Architect Dick Haley — and everyone in between.
Social media can actually be a beautiful thing, especially when we can go back and explore great sports memories.
- Heck, go back and watch features involving the Ice Bowl or the Fog Bowl.
I know it sounds crazy to focus on teams besides the Steelers, but it’s not that bad.
You know what I can’t wait for? That moment when I walk past some football field this summer, and I smell that freshly-cut grass. It’s going to get me all jazzed up for the NFL. It’s going to remind me why I love the game of football so much.
There’s more to being a Steelers fan than just being worked into a frenzy 24/7/365 over real or imagined drama.
- Learning and writing about Steelers history is quite therapeutic.
I encourage you to try one or both of those before the start of the 2023 regular season.