Moving forward

On Tuesday, players attended a beautiful, moving funeral mass to honor Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney.

And on Wednesday, they did exactly what Rooney would have wanted them to do.

They began to move forward with football.

Yes, it was with a heavy heart that they did so, but it also was with respect and understanding that it's up to them to uphold the Steelers on-field tradition.   

"I think the most important thing you can do is continue the tradition and the legacy that was left," said Vince Williams. "There is no better way to do that than coming in and focusing on what we have to get done. Today is the first day of that. It's ridiculously important to do it."

The Steelers began Phase One of the offseason program on Wednesday, a voluntary two-week period that is limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.

"The family is back together," said Stephon Tuitt. "It started yesterday, going to the memorial. Coming back for a common cause, not just for football, but for a man who has helped bring our lives to a better place.

"Being back here, this is what he would want us to be doing. This is a baby that he built, and grew and nurtured. We are going to do our best to sustain it for him."

There was a different vibe to the day though, not the same feel you normally have at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.  

"It's never going to be normal," said Cameron Heyward. "We know Mr. Rooney would want us to get back to work and accomplish our goals here. The only way to do that is starting on day one.   

"I think this whole community feels the great loss we had. We just want to show our thanks, whether it's in winning the Super Bowl or accomplishing other goals. We want to accomplish all of those in his light."

Despite the sound of clanking weights, of players greeting each other, of some laughter and the feeling of football in the air, there was something missing.

"I saw him every day in this building," said Williams. "Today is the first day you come in and don't shake his hand, don't see him in the building. It's odd. I think everybody is feeling the same way."

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