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Offseason Program

Building a team bond

Remember when you were a kid and you had the excitement of heading out on a field trip instead of sitting through class all day.

The excitement level was through the roof, as fun was on the lesson plan for the day.

That's the same feeling Steelers' players had on Monday morning when they learned that instead of hitting the field for another OTA session they were headed to Topgolf for a day of fun and team building.

"It's always fun to see young guys thinking we are going to practice on a day like this and their faces light up when Coach (Mike) Tomlin says it's team building today," said Ramon Foster. "It's good because you get to see guys outside of the building. As big as a team we are, it's good to keep guys close in a non-football atmosphere."

Tomlin has made it an annual tradition to give the players a day off during OTAs, a day committed to team building where fun is the only thing on tap. This year they changed things up, going to Topgolf for the first time, a choice that was popular with the players.

"It's great. I think if you expect them to work cooperatively together they have to get to know one another in informal activities," said Tomlin. "We provide them a platform for that. I think guys just generally enjoy themselves.

"This is a key time for forming those bonds, but there is never a bad time for that. That is one of the reasons I still like that we are committed to go away to training camp when others aren't. I feel like that opportunity in that secluded setting is also a good opportunity for those type of things.

"The guys get competitive. It doesn't surprise me. Hopefully it doesn't get too bad today."

It got competitive alright. Keep in mind, these are professional athletes and they don't like to lose, no matter what they are doing.

"There was a lot of competitive stuff going on today, a lot of people chirping in people's ears," laughed Tyler Matakevich.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler is one of the best golfers in the group, but the players still challenged him.

"I am trying to win," said Vince Williams. "Coach Butts thinks he is a pretty good golfer, but we are going to see today.

"I think this is a huge part of building the culture. You want to have fun. Every day we come out here and go to work. You have to take days like this to get to know each other, spend a little personal time together."

For the rookies this was one of the first opportunities to get to know the veterans away from the facility and the field, and it's something they took advantage of.

"I think this is a big part of team camaraderie, of studying your teammates on a personal level," said rookie Devin Bush, who is also a rookie when it comes to golf. "You get a better understanding of how people go about their business and the mindset that they have.

"It's also about creating friendships. Everything is about relationships. If things aren't good in your relationships, from personal to work, things crumble. This helps you build that relationship and get to know the people you are working with."