While we await with baited breath the introduction of a new member of the Pittsburgh Steelers every time the team is on the clock, for at least some of us, perhaps we do so knowing in the back of our minds that it will be a while before these players even have the opportunity to come into the city, let alone to get on the field.
That is because the nation—the bulk of the world—is experiencing a viral pandemic, part of the defense against which, at least until there are vaccines and better treatment strategies, involves as many people as possible keeping to themselves and away from other people.
Some areas of the country have been less affected by others. Western Pennsylvania, for example, has been fortunate to have been spared some of the worst traces of Covid-19. But from a league perspective, that makes no difference, as no team is permitted to do what other teams cannot, as they all have to be on equal footing, something Steelers president Art Rooney II talked about earlier on Steelers Nation Radio.
On having to be on an even playing field, he said, “we do, and that’s why the commissioner, we did the draft in terms of everybody doing it on a remote location, because the commissioner just felt like allowing some teams to have access to their facilities and others not, it would create an unequal playing field”.
Last month, it had been reported that the Steelers were intending to have a skeleton crew in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex’s Bill Nunn Draft Room, consisting of general manager Kevin Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin, and Rooney. Teams in harder-hit areas would have been unable to do that, so the league announced that the draft would be done entirely virtually.
“I think the same thing goes for, as we try to open up the facilities for players to come in and work out, I think the commissioners’ gonna want to try to only do that if we get to the point where every team has access to their facility”, Rooney added. “It’s gonna take a while for this to unfold. Fortunately we have a little bit more time before we really have to get into the meat of our training camp and things like that”.
As we sit here today, it’s unlikely that anything changes in terms of the nationwide circumstances that would allow teams to open up their facilities to allow players to work out or to engage in OTAs or minicamp, which takes place across the middle of May into June.
Teams have pretty much resigned themselves already to the idea of having no Spring workouts. But what about training camp, set to kick off in late July and into August? That’s still months away, but if that, too, is affected, it could really affect the season.