Talking Steelers Football With Arnold Palmer


Talking Steelers Football with Arnold Palmer

Golf legend Arnold Palmer is known worldwide, but in Western Pennsylvania he is without a doubt at the top of everyone's list of all-time golfers. Palmer lives in Latrobe, Pa., where the Steelers hold their training camp, and has been following the Steelers for as long as he can remember.

Palmer has golfed with current and former Steelers players and coaches, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"It was awesome," said Roethlisberger of the chance to golf with him at an outing. "It was Arnold and I on a team against Coach (Terry) Hoeppner and Spider Miller. We had a lot of fun. Just to be out there with him. He is a legend. He is maybe the greatest to ever play. It was fun to hear stories and watch him play. He chipped in a couple of times and had some great shots. It was a blast.

"I learned a lot. It wasn't like he gave me any golf tips. It was just to be out with him and hear the stories. Just to be around a legend like that was unbelievable."

Palmer was honored when the Steelers played the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field in 2002 for his lifetime contribution to the golf world and the impact he has had on Western Pennsylvania and served as an honorary co-captain for the coin toss.

*Palmer took time out recently to talk with assistant editor Teresa Varley for Talking Steelers Football.

How long have your been following the Steelers?
I have been watching them and a fan since for as long as I can remember, since they started.

What are some of your favorite Steelers memories?

It would be the people. They have had some great people associated with the Steelers. A couple of their coaches were really good guys and I think great coaches. There have also been some great players through the years. There were guys who were very colorful and kept the public's interest in the Steelers not just locally, but all over the United States people were interested in the players and what they were doing in Pittsburgh. I think that through the history of the Steelers they have been a very attractive organization and of course the ownership and the players and coaches made all of that possible.

How closely are you able to follow the Steelers now?
I follow them very close. Even when I am away from Pittsburgh I am very close to what is going on and try to keep current with everything that is happening.

You were honored at Heinz Field in 2002. What was that like for you?

That was a great thrill for me. I suppose like a lot of young people I always had a little ambition to be a football player even though I never ended up there and probably for my own best interest that would be the right thing. I was always a little frustrated that I didn't play football. To be honored by the Steelers and be a part of the activities that were taking place in Pittsburgh with the Steelers was a great thrill.

Is there a current or former Steelers player who you really enjoyed watching and whose game you respect?

I think the running back that just retired, Jerome Bettis, was one of my real favorite people. I am scheduled to have a golf game with him and for one reason or another it hasn't happened. It will happen. I hope that I can help him with his game. I look forward to playing with him.  

What are your thoughts on what Mike Tomlin has brought to this team?

I think that he has got the team pulling together. That is one of the most important things a coach can do, is get the camaraderie among players and keep it working to win football games.

Have you ever golfed with any current or former Steelers players or coaches?
I have played with quite a few of them. I played with Terry Bradshaw and a couple of coaches, including Bill Cowher. I played with Ken Whisenhunt who is out in Arizona now and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. I played with both of them on the same day. I also played with Ben Roethlisberger. I think they are all pretty good golfers. Ben was outstanding. He did a great job and I enjoyed it very much.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the name Steelers?
Art Rooney. The original owner was a friend of mine. I knew him very well. He was the inspiration behind the start of the Steelers and carried it right on until his death.

Who on the Steelers do you think can handle the pressure of sinking a key put?
I think that would have to be Dick LeBeau. He is a good player and he would rank in the high echelon of those.
If you could have one current or former Steelers player be your caddy for a day, who would it be?

It would probably be Terry Bradshaw. He is a funny guy and he is a very colorful person. I think he would behave out there on the golf course. He is a pretty well educated golfer.

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