They might not be ready for prime time, but those taking part in the Steelers 13th Annual Men's Fantasy Camp definitely had a good time on the practice fields at Saint Vincent College this weekend.
The camp drew 250 participants from 38 states, as well as Canada, Mexico and Germany, to learn what it's like to be an NFL player. At least to some extent.
"For me it started out going to be where the Steelers were, where they trained and practiced," said Jon Boyers, who has come from Harrisonburg, Virginia for every fantasy camp to date. "After I got there I met so many people and made friends from all over the country. We come back every year and it's a little reunion. It's great because we are all here for the same purpose. We all love the Steelers."
Former Steelers players Jeff Hartings, Tunch Ilkin, Josh Miller, Antwaan Randle El, Aaron Smith, Mike Tomczak, Deshea Townsend and Craig Wolfley conducted on field drills, each teaching their own position and providing tips.
"That is the great part," said Boyers. "I am a high school football coach and use some of the stuff the guys give me and take it back to my kids. It's really impactful because when you tell the kids NFL players taught me this you really connect with your team. And it's fun for me going out there and living out a dream."
Steelers' fans gather at Saint Vincent College for the 13th annual Men's Fantasy Camp.
Outside linebackers coach Joey Porter conducted a 'team meeting,' sharing football knowledge and stories with the attendees.
"It's fun because it's Steelers Nation," said Porter. "You have guys out there who love football period. They embrace us and everything we do. I am happy to see them, and hopefully they were happy to see me.
"Some are going to use what I share with them, and some are fans who just want to see if they can play football one more time. That is fun. You have guys who just love the game, and then ones who will use it to help their kids get better. It's fun, it's a good experience, and hopefully they had as much fun as I did."
The event was capped off by hearing from former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2015.
"He played hard and always did a really great job," said Boyers. "Meeting him is amazing. I am actually going to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, so this is like a preview of what I am going to see there."