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Rookies get history lesson

Posted Jun 27, 2012

While Antonio Brown becomes part of history

Steelers’ rookies are in the presence of a Pro Football Hall of Famer daily in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, but they got even more of a lesson in the history of the NFL when they visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“It was amazing,” said running back Chris Rainey. “It was great, the way you can see all of the great players in one spot. The amazing thing is you feel like the players you grew up watching that you could just touch their uniforms. It was fun. You know you are in a good program all around here. When you see stuff like that you know you are in a great place. Just seeing all of the Steelers in the Hall was amazing. I watch Coach LeBeau every day and say I can’t believe he is in the Hall of Fame and still here coaching. It’s amazing.

“Walking in there and just imagining if I were in there. It was amazing and fun. It gave me a little bit of motivation. It’s a long time coming, but it’s motivation.”

The rookies toured the Hall of Fame, many of them taking pictures and asking questions, getting a true feel for the tradition of the game.

But it wasn’t just rookies taking part. Wide receiver Antonio Brown, along with his son, joined them for the day and after speaking with Hall of Fame officials was asked to send his game jersey from the 2011 season to the Hall of Fame for the Pro Football Today Gallery. Brown became the first player in NFL history to have 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 total return yards in the same season. The jersey is now on display in Canton.

“It’s something unique,” said Brown. “To have my jersey there is something special. It’s an honor, something I can show my son, something that is amazing. It was great taking my son there. It helped him see what football history is all about.

“Having my jersey there now gives me even more motivation. You want to be legendary, make a mark on this league. This is just the beginning of what God has in store for me.”

The Steelers started the tradition of taking rookies to the Hall of Fame, and it’s something that the NFL has implemented for all teams to do with rookies as well.

“It shows them the rich heritage we have, the legacy we have had and guys who have gone into the Hall of Fame,” said Ray Jackson, the Steelers’ player development director who handles rookie programs. “I think it means a lot when the guys go there and see two of their owners in the Hall of Fame in Art Rooney, Sr. and Dan Rooney, the coaches in there, Coach LeBeau, and two going in this year with Jack Butler and Dermontti Dawson.

“It’s the rich tradition and understanding what the game is about. Hopefully it brought out the purpose of football is to continue the rich legacy of football the Steelers have.”

Rookies also took part in other activities since they first reported to Pittsburgh, including a visit to St. Vincent College just to get acclimated to the team’s training camp. In addition they have participated in seminars, including financial planning.

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