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Camp Countdown: A unique start

As the Steelers prepare to head to Saint Vincent College for training camp, we are taking a look back at training camp from the Steelers Super Bowl seasons. Today's spotlight is the 1974 training camp.

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Training camp opened in a strange manner in 1974 when Steelers veteran players didn't report to Saint Vincent College because of an NFL players strike.

And with the strike on, fans also weren't permitted on campus during that timeframe.

The hope going into training camp was the Steelers would have a chance to be a serious contender for their first Super Bowl, but the strike was expected to be detrimental to that goal.

Check out photos of members of the 1974 Steelers draft class at training camp.

"You build a team up to this point and then this happens," said Dan Rooney, who at that point was the Steelers vice president. "We were thinking this was our year to really make a run at the Super Bowl. These disruptions bother us seriously."

Coach Chuck Noll, a man whose main focus was preparing for the season, wasn't happy with the strike.

"The strike is screwing up our plans the whole way," said Noll. "It makes it very difficult to put a team together."

Take a look at Steelers Training Camp through the years

But after a draft that landed future Hall of Fames in receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, linebacker Jack Lambert, and center Mike Webster, as well as free agent safety Donnie Shell, the Steelers plans were in good shape. The rookies reported to camp as they were not part of the players union and with jobs on the line many of them got right to work.

"We may have to slow down the process a bit, but for the most part we'll just proceed normally," said Noll. "How much the strike will affect us as a team can't be determined. It's mostly an individual thing. But there are problems, no question.

"The limited number of players we'll have in camp will shorten our work a little bit, which is probably just as well. We'll have enough to practice, and we'll have fewer players to coach. That should enable us to work a little closer with some of the players."

The number of players available grew when some crossed the picket line, and the strike ended after 44 days.

While Rooney and Noll had their concerns early on, they were unfounded as the Steelers went on to win their first Super Bowl, beating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX.

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