Steelers at practice Dublin ’97

Dublin programmeWhen the Steelers came to Dublin for the American Bowl to play for the Waterford Crystal trophy, I spent three days watching them practice before the game. Here are the notes I wrote at the time.

On a bright summer morning at Dublin University, the gladiators enter, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears, together with the journalists covering their trip. Myron Cope, Ed Bouchette, Sam Nover.

The journalists sit and wait on the sports centre’s steps while the players dress for practice. As we were waiting with the scribes, one of them came up, introduced himself and inquired as to why we were there. I don’t think that Dennis Roddy could believe his ears.

A Steelers UK Supporters Club? Travelling to Pittsburgh for games? 115 members? Travelling over for Super Bowl XXX? In Ireland simply for Sunday’s game?

I think the new club membership card helped to convince him about how serious we were. Then when my friend Dave produced his copy of the newsletter any lingering doubts evaporated and Dennis had his first story of the week – within five minutes of his arrival.

Bill Cowher came out of the locker room drinking some Irish spring water from a polystyrene cup that he eventually placed in the trash. As a joke, I said let’s have the cup that Bill drank from and Dave retrieved it from the waste before putting it in his rucksack. The players then came out and everyone moved across to the practice field marked up into two football pitches.

Carnell lake and Greg Lloyd
Carnell lake and Greg Lloyd

The teams separated and began their warm ups before splitting into groups. Offensive linemen here, QBs with receivers there. RB’s practicing getting out of their stance etc., punt / kickoff practice (running at the same time) seven on sevens (our offense v their defense and vice versa) eleven on elevens. The specialists working by themselves at the same time as the eleven on elevens. With few members of the public attending, the whole exercise was executed very informally.

Your eyes go everywhere, but you see nothing as there is so much going on. Eventually, I concentrate on my main man, Greg Lloyd. As he was coming back from injury, I was interested to see how fit he appeared. He certainly seemed to stretch out more than the other players, testing those powerful muscles in his legs to see what was going to be there for this year.

During the scrimmage with the Bears, he didn’t commit to full strength – then as a veteran, he didn’t need to. There was one interesting moment when it looked as though Carnell Lake and Lloyd had a disagreement. A blown coverage with Carnell saying, “I did. I tapped you.” It was nice to see the players taking it serious

As the players were rotated, the veterans were offering advice to the rookies. I caught a glimpse of Lethon Flowers spending time with Cedric Samuel. Dave and I were discussing James Parrish and searching for his number when one of the Bears’ staff overheard us and said that Parrish hadn’t come over. Being an ex Steeler and a member of the Steelers list on the net, we had been interested in meeting up with him.

Jerome Bettis leading the team off the practice field
Jerome Bettis leading the team off the practice field
The Steelers arrive on the sideline Croke Park
The Steelers arrive on the sideline Croke Park

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