Camp Countdown: Facing the challenge

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 1975 training camp.

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The headline in a local newspaper said it all.

"Fans flock to St. Vincent daily for Steeler workouts."

As the article read, thousands of fans were making the trek to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. on a daily basis for the first two weeks of camp, tracking down their favorite players for autographs and cheering from the hillside during practice.

While camp was always an attraction for fans, the 1975 training camp took it to another level as the Steelers were coming off their first Super Bowl win, a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX, and this was an opportunity to see the players up close and personal.

The excitement was apparent as veterans showed up early, including receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, reporting on the day that was designated for rookie arrivals. Also showing up early were linebacker Jack Lambert, safety Donnie Shell, offensive linemen Mike Webster and Sam Davis.

A camp scrimmage caught the attention of the fans, but for Coach Chuck Noll all that was catching his attention was the progress of his team.

"We're having a good camp," said Noll. "I think we're right on schedule. We really don't have a schedule, but it we did, we'd be on it."

Take a look at Steelers Training Camp through the years

They might not have had a schedule, but they did have a mission – repeat as Super Bowl champs.

"If we can have the same single-mindedness, the same dedication on the field as well as off the field, and the same high quality of leadership we had last year, I see no reason why we can't win the Super Bowl again," said backup quarterback Terry Hanratty. "Certainly, the talent is there. But, if anybody thinks winning the Super Bowl as second time will be easy, they're crazy.

"For us, the challenge is definitely still there. We have so many years of losing to make up for, I don't think complacency will be much of a factor until we win four or five Super Bowls. Our image is still that of a loser and once is not enough to change that image."

That image is something the players were setting out to change in 1975 and prove the 1974 season wasn't a fluke.

"We'll be a marked team from the start and the outside pressures will be so much greater," said defensive end Dwight White. "It's going to take a lot of luck, believe me.

"I don't know why it is, but I think a lot of people look upon our win last January (Super Bowl IX) as a fluke. I think the public, not the people of Pittsburgh, but the general public across the country think that the first time you win a Super Bowl is a fluke. Win it a second time, and they call you a dynasty. The second one is the key to the proper form of recognition. Because we've lost for so long, some people still write off all the great, positive things we've done the last few years.

"In their minds we're still born losers. So, that's our challenge for this year. Win another Super Bowl and change their minds and, of course, our image. I think we can do it unless our luck turns awfully sour."

There was no sour taste, but just sweet victory, and the 1975 Steelers headed out of training camp and onto the road to their second championship, winning Super Bowl X over the Dallas Cowboys.

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