LATROBE, Pa. – It's no secret that the Steelers have a massive fan base, one that reaches near and far and every walk of life.
During training camp many of those fans come out and watch the Steelers practice, including some familiar faces.
The Steelers held their first open practice at Heinz Field as part of Family Fest.
New York Knicks General Manager Scott Perry was at practice on Saturday and Sunday, along with Knicks President Steve Mills, enjoying interacting with Steelers coaches, players and management.
"It's an absolute blast. I really enjoy it," said Perry. "I am a huge Steelers fan so I am living the dream when I come here. I feel at home, the way Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney make me feel very welcome here.
"I learn a lot too, professionally. Even though I work in basketball, there are things I can take from my experience here when I come to camp. We get a chance to share some professional ideas. I think that is great. There is a lot to be learned from one another. There are some lessons that transfer from the two sports."
Perry's connections to the Steelers are deep-rooted. His father, Lowell Perry, played briefly for the Steelers in 1956, but his career was cut short because of an injury. Steelers owner Art Rooney Sr. told Perry there would always be a spot for him with the Steelers, and was true to his word when he hired him as the team's wide receivers coach in 1957, the first African-American coach in the NFL since World War II. Perry also worked for the Steelers scouting department for a year, before returning home to Detroit to earn his law degree.
"I know I wouldn't be standing here today without the Rooney family and the Steelers organization and what they meant to him first and foremost, and that trickled down to his kids," said Perry. "Every time I think of the Steelers, I think of that. I follow them closely. If we have a game when the Steelers are playing, I record it. I come home and watch it at night.
"They have been a fabric of my daily life. I feel blessed to be around it and so close to it thanks to Kevin and Mike."
It's pretty common to see Steelers' alumni at camp, but you don't often see players from other NFL teams, especially when they are dressed in black and gold.
Former Detroit Lions star receiver Herman Moore was at camp, visiting with General Manager Kevin Colbert, who was with the Lions when Moore was, and watching the team he grew up a fan of.
"The Steelers were my childhood team," said Moore. "As a former player I can go to the Lions camp any time. This is really big because it's a team I grew up watching and loved. This is awesome.
"I love Pittsburgh and John Stallworth was my favorite player. In high school I got No. 82 because of him. It's a dynasty, a great organization. When I watched (Lynn) Swann, (Terry) Bradshaw, Stallworth, (Rocky) Bleier, and (Franco) Harris, that was the group. I used to emulate them when I started out playing football. You latch on to a team and luckily I latched on to a winner."
UFC standout Luke Rockhold stopped by for a practice as well, in the area to promote his upcoming fight at PPG Paints Arena as a part of UFC Fight Night on Sept. 16.
"I am a football fan," said Rockhold. "I am a big fan of sports. It's a tough man's sport. That is what I participate in. Luckily for me I get to see where my opponent is coming from. I admire these guys. It's fun to watch."
Rockhold said William Gay wouldn't be someone fun to deal with in the ring.
"I know a lot about James," said Rockhold. "The guy is a beast. Put some skill behind a man like that it wouldn't be a good scene to have him in the ring."