Training Camp for Fans, Part Two: Don’t Get Trapped

Photo via

By Ivan Cole

This is a continuation of what you might call the inaugural series for our site, way back in 2015. As with Part 1, I’ll do a bit of commenting here and there, but mostly, just marvel in Ivan’s gift for bringing together disparate things to give us a new way of looking at them. I will be bearing all of this in mind as I sit at Latrobe later today – Ed.


The cruel irony of our situation is that in the midst of an incredible abundance of informational possibilities our ability to benefit has become increasingly more limited. [So true, for everything, not just sports…] Whether you would place the blame on the failures of an educational system producing citizens that lack perspective and understanding of their social environment, the lack of ability to think in a critical fashion, or a television based culture that creates short attention spans and celebrates the superficial and the trivial (including an outsized emphasis on the importance of sports over other concerns), increasingly for many of us it is as though we sit at a full banquet table, starving because we lack hands and a mouth. Read more

Talent vs. Effort vs. Tyler vs. Tomlin

[Photo via]

One of the things which has been said about the 2017 Steelers, at least since the draft was over, is that the depth at inside linebacker is dangerously thin. Ryan Shazier has certainly missed some time in the past, and he missed Games 4-6 last season. (He missed seven games in 2014 and four in 2015, so I guess you could say the arrow is pointed up.) Williams has been remarkably durable. The only season he didn’t play 16 games was his rookie year (2013) and that was the first game of the season, so I’m guessing he just didn’t “get a hat.”

As they say in the financial industry, previous performance is no guarantee of future results. But one thing to consider is just how often both Shazier and Williams will be on the field, because the Steelers have been using sub-packages an awful lot of the time. And Williams won’t be on the field anyhow on third and long. But somebody has to be, and, more to the point, there has to be a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan. Read more

Steelers Training Camp Report—Day 1


Obviously this isn't one of my patented Training Camp Diaries, because the first open practice isn't for five more hours as I write this. (But who's counting?) This is just a quick note on some things which caught my attention in the swirl of reporting around the beginning of camp, in sort of a live-post format. Please excuse any wonkiness, as I've been having a lot of problems with WordPress recently…

The most interesting part about it is that those who aren't there threaten to overshadow those who are. Read more

Meet the New Steeler: RB Terrell Watson

I suppose this should be called “Meet the Semi-New Steeler,” because Watson was signed back in March after being cut by the Browns. Go ahead if you must and insert the obligatory remark, and then please continue to read about what turns out to be an extraordinary young man.

Terrell Watson’s life is rather like something out of a Victorian novel. He was left in a basket on a doorstep as a two-week-old baby—yes, really. The birth mother was the 15-year old daughter by an earlier relationship of the husband of the couple behind the door, and it was she who so unceremoniously left the child on the doorstep. Read more

Steelers Training Camp for Fans, Part One: The Myth of the ‘Knowledgeable’ Fan

by Ivan Cole


Editor’s note: This is a republication of one of the first articles ever published on our site.  Ivan has written many thousands of words in his “Training Camp for Fans” series over the past few seasons, and I thought that rather than expecting him to come up with even more of them, it was worth revisiting some of the older articles, especially as I suspect many of the visitors to the site aren’t familiar with the older content. I personally think this is one of the better pieces he’s written. I hope you enjoy it, and that my occasional editorial comments, all in italics, don’t hinder that enjoyment…

We assume without question that preseason training for players is absolutely essential to any hope for team success. Why not apply the same logic to fans? Read more

All I’m Going to Say About Le’Veon Bell

UPDATE:Sources” (which usually turn out to be more or less correct in such matters) say that Bell was offered a contract which would pay $42 million in the first three years, $30 million of it in the first two years. [I don’t think the total length of the contract is known, but it was clearly at least three years.] Financially it would mean he would get an addition $3 million in 2017, some additional pocket change in 2018 (the second franchise tag for 2018 is estimated to be around $14.5 million or so,) and still be paid $12 million in 2019 if a new deal isn’t negotiated, or he isn’t pretty much done, which seems more likely. As it it, the $12.1 million he’s getting this season is $3.5 million more than any other RB in the league. The speculation is that there might have been provisions about suspensions and suchlike in it, which might have been a deal-breaker for Bell. None of this changes what I wrote previously…

Wayyy too early this morning (I’m writing this on Tuesday) my husband asked me a most unusual question. He came back upstairs from breakfast, where he had read the newspaper as usual, and said “So explain to me what the fuss is over Le’Veon Bell.”

The ususual part of the question is that he would even ask, as long-time readers know he’s not a sports fan. At any rate, I explained the situation, and as I did I started realizing just how well this works out for the Steelers, at least in theory, and conversely what poor judgment it would seem Bell and his agent exercised. Let me explain, and please feel free to disagree!

Read more

What If the Steelers Weren’t Around?


The Steagles—photo from Temple University archives, via Philadelphia Eagles

By Ivan Cole

The inspiration for this came after it was announced that Justin Gilbert was given a year-long suspension by the league. We have become accustomed to players being unavailable for numbers of games, and even entire seasons. But what if that happened to an entire team? What if for some circumstance that is currently unforeseen the Steelers would not be playing for a season or more while the rest of the NFL continued?

This is not as foreign a concept as it might appear at first glance. In the days when the Steelers were, well, terrible, it was common practice for many fans to adopt a more competent, competitive team to root for. No doubt, this is how in current times many people may have come to be followers of the Steelers. Read more

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