Koll: It Can't Be Business As Usual For The Steelers In Latrobe

Every move will be magnified & they must tighten things up

Matt Koll
July 25, 2019 - 7:22 am
Mike Tomlin

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing this training camp entrance from Jaguars star cornerback Jalen Ramsey yesterday gave me chills.

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And not in a good way.

Ramsey, in the middle of contentious contract negotiations with Jacksonville, hopped out of a Brinks truck while a hype man with a megaphone yelled out things like, “This man’s coverage is so good, he better have his own cell phone service.” Pretty clever I must admit.

Also things like, “The man’s so good they better give him his own jail…because these receivers are on 24-hour lockdown.” Eh, that one missed the mark.  

Then the real kicker at the end, “It’s time to get this money!”

As I watched, sure I was entertained. But my next thought was that this is EXACTLY the kind of thing the Steelers must avoid today when they report to training camp.

We all remember the helicopter ride Antonio Brown enjoyed while flying into camp last year. You might also remember the fire truck that James Harrison rolled into Latrobe with a couple years ago.

Related: NFL Insider says Steelers will finish 4th or 5th in AFC standings

There was a time when these seemed like innocent acts. It was just rich players having fun as they report to what is generally a summer slog in training camp.

It can’t happen this year. This trip to Saint Vincent must be no nonsense. The last thing you want to do is get off on the wrong foot after the 9-6-1, playoff-missing circus we witnessed last year. 

As much as we don’t want to think about or hear about the two men who used to wear #84 and #26 in black and gold in recent years, I think this is part of their lasting effect. At least while the current regime resides in town.

Now that the perceived troublemakers are on different teams the questions remain: Was it really all them or do the Steelers truly have a culture problem that is bigger than them? Are the sources of the drama gone or do they still remain with the quarterback and the head coach at the helm?

The minute anything out of the ordinary happens, whether it be a ridiculously grand entrance or a player carrying on his own charades in front of his camera crew (especially if it’s JuJu), it’s going to be blown out of proportion.

“Here they go again. Same old Steelers. Caught up in everything else besides actual football. What a mess they continue to be.”  

The local and national media alike, and there’s sure to be a national media presence as always, will eat it up. I’d imagine even fans will be looking for things that just might not be there.

If there was ever a year for the Steelers to keep a business-like, low profile…it’s this year.

There are sharks in the water. They’re circling this team, waiting for the first hints of blood to devour the prey and create a storyline.

It may not be fair to this group, but because of all that has happened over the past couple years, each move these players make will be scrutinized and magnified to the max.

Did Ben just yell at one of his receivers? Did this player just go after a media member on social media? Did they just go missing from camp?  

Today would be a big step in the right direction. It may be fun to show up in helicopters and fire trucks and tractors and Brinks trucks with hype men or whatever else you can think of.

A Steeler might do something similar.  

But they would do well to be careful how they are coming off to the public. The public that is looking for any sign of dysfunction. The public that is sick of seeing the side show of this team while they underperform on the field. The public, at least some of it, that is looking to build on a narrative that the Steelers themselves were always the problem and not those that left the team.

As they report to camp, I can’t help but to be just a little nervous as to what silliness unfolds. But I do truly believe *most* of the headache left in the offseason.

For that, I breathe a sigh of relief and I look forward to what a “normal” NFL team looks like again.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any storylines coming out of training camp that aren’t necessarily about football.

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