*The Steelers are celebrating their 50th training camp at Saint Vincent College this summer. As a part of that celebration, we will be sharing training camp memories from players, coaches, staff and fans, leading up to the start of the 2015 Steelers Training Camp.
*Training Camp Memories: Mel Blount
It's the 50th year the Steelers are holding camp at Saint Vincent College. What are some of your memories from camp?
"Training camp was different back in the 1970s and early 1980s. When I came for my first training camp I couldn't believe we went into this dorm and had no air conditioning. We had to bring our own fan. There were a lot of changes we started instituting in the 1970s.
"One of the great stories I remember is we used to go to morning practice, go back to our dorms, then come back for lunch, stop and get our uniforms and get ready for the second practice in the afternoon. One morning Joe Greene decided he wanted his uniform so he could take it to the room before lunch and it would be there. The door to the equipment room was locked so he kicked the door in and got his uniform. Chuck Noll, at the meeting before practice didn't make a big deal about it, but he said we have to protect and take care of the people's property up here because they are nice enough to let us use it. That was the end of it. But the change was the equipment manager kept the door open so we could get our uniforms and they would be there when we came from lunch. It was subtle, but it was a great thing that happened.
"When I look at it now and when we came along, it's a world of difference. There were a lot of things we started instituting."
What were practices like under Coach Noll?
"It was live. But I look at it now and think that is why we were so tough, physical and good. Every day was like a game day. Guys were out there hitting each other. It was a physical thing. We were in pads every day. It was football the old fashion way. I know with the new collective bargaining agreement now you can't do that, but that was the football we knew back in the 1970s."
Did you witness some great battles in camp?**
"I knew at my position, the defensive backs versus the wide receivers, every day we were going at each other. It was a pride thing. You didn't want a guy to catch a ball on the defensive side and on the offensive side they wanted to catch it. We talk about it now all of the time, (John) Stallworth, (Lynn) Swann and I and different players. We talk about how easy it was when we got to game day on Sunday because we had competed against the best all week and we competed at a high level. When we got to game day that is when the fun started.
"Training camp and the practices, there are so many great memories, but the one thing that was in that formula for everybody that was being competitive and trying to be the best."
Did you look at Saint Vincent as a beautiful setting, or was it more of a place you had to go to work and sweat?
"We always saw the beauty of it. This is a beautiful area, Western Pennsylvania, and Saint Vincent is a beautiful campus. I think our mindset was that it was a place we went to get better and learn. There was a lot of sweat, a lot of discomfort, but we knew why we were there and what we were there for. When we came out of training camp we felt like we were ready to go into the season and compete."
*What was it like to see the fans start coming to camp in droves after you began winning Super Bowls? *
"When we started winning, and won our first Super Bowl, the fans started to show up at camp. At the time we were focused on getting the job done, winning another championship. But when you get out of the game and you look back at it, you say isn't it amazing what kind of fan support we had and how great it was. You love your fans, you know why they are there and you know they are the reason the game is as popular as it is."
What is it like to go back to camp now and watch practice?
"I have probably been back to camp three or four times since I retired. Every time I go back it's the memories that flash through my mind. They made so many changes there and I think it's great. The field, naming it after Chuck Noll is an awesome thing. When I go back I go back it's as a person who supports the Steelers and players, at the same time reminisce a little bit. I try not to get too caught up in what it was versus what it is now."