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Steelers kick off 50th Camp at Saint Vincent College

Posted Jul 26, 2015

Steelers President Art Rooney II shares his memories from Saint Vincent College.

The Steelers kicked off their 50th Training Camp at Saint Vincent College in style on Sunday with a golden celebration before the team’s first practice.

Youth football players from Western Pennsylvania got the camp crowd fired up, as approximately 300 were led to the field by the Steeline and Pennsylvania National Guard, who presented our Nation’s colors.

Then it was the moment fans were waiting for, as the 2015 Steelers emerged from the locker room to loud cheers and headed down to the field for practice.

Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney and President Art Rooney II thanked Saint Vincent for all the years of hosting camp, and presented Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, Brother Norman Hipps, and Father Paul Taylor with gold footballs, while Saint Vincent staff presented the Rooneys with stained glass from the Basilica windows formed into a cross.

“It is hard to believe we have been here 50 years,” said Art Rooney II. “I was a ball boy back in those days and things were a little different. We certainly weren’t sitting on six World Championships and it was a different atmosphere. It feels good we have come this far in 50 years.”

Rooney went on to share one of his favorite memories, from seeing Hall of Famers start their careers, to the time when he was a ball boy and ‘stole’ Joe Greene’s car.

“It was seeing a lot of great players start their careers here,” he said. “When Terry Bradshaw stepped on the field, Franco Harris. Seeing things were changing. It was a remarkable time when we first started here.”

And about that car.

“Joe showed up in a beautiful green Lincoln Continental and me and Bill Nunn were ball boys and somehow Bill got the keys one night and we decided to take it for a ride,” shared Rooney. “We only told Joe the story about 10 years ago. We figured enough time had passed that we could share the joy ride.”

Steelers’ alumni from each decade the team has been at Saint Vincent were also on hand, including Jon Kolb (drafted in 1969), J.T. Thomas (1970s), Louis Lipps (1980s), Merril Hoge (1990s), and Charlie Batch (2000s).

“My experience may be different than most,” said Hoge of his days at training camp. “I didn’t come from Michigan. I didn’t come from Georgia. I was from Idaho.

“When you go down and the first time you enter a practice at Latrobe and you have more fans at practice than you ever had at a game in college, it takes you a while just to adjust to practice. Early on when I got there I never experienced anything like that. It’s why Latrobe is a fascinating place. It’s like a football sanctuary.”

The celebration concluded with Pittsburgh native and finalist on NBC’s The Voice Chris Jamison singing the National Anthem.

“It’s a beautiful campus,” said Rooney. “The changes that have been made are outstanding. The best part about it is we have had a lot of success coming out of Saint Vincent. We are happy to be here and it’s great to celebrate our 50th camp here.”