The 2020 offseason was a rough one, for obvious reasons. And for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the fans, one of the most frustrating sports-related casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic was the fact that teams were not permitted to travel to off-site locations to conduct training camp, which meant no trip to Saint Vincent College at Latrobe.
Traveling is back on this year, and the league has already announced that fans will be permitted to attend, but reportedly, the Steelers nearly went even further. Michael Gehlken, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, reported via Twitter that the team was in talks with the Dallas Cowboys to hold joint practices prior to their matchup in the Hall of Fame game.
Cowboys had discussions with Steelers about holding joint practices as part of team’s trip east for Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5. in Canton, Ohio. But that plan appears no longer in play. Joint practices with Rams been scheduled “in place of that,” source said.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) May 28, 2021
The Steelers and Cowboys were originally slated to participate in the Hall of Fame game last year, but the entire Hall of Fame weekend, and the entire preseason, was scrubbed. Now last year’s inductions will happen this year, which will including multiple Steelers and Cowboys, as two of the league’s most storied franchises celebrate their individual and shared histories in the first NFL game of the 2021 season.
It’s been a few years since the Steelers held any joint practices, but not too long ago. They butted heads with the Detroit Lions during training camp in 2016, and two years prior to that, as well, squaring off with the Buffalo Bills. They were meant to work with Buffalo again a year later, but those sessions were ultimately scrapped after then-Bills head coach Doug Marron exercised an opt-out clause following the sale of the franchise.
Back in March, both the Steelers and the Bills approached the league to request that they approve a return of joint practices this offseason, which were prohibited last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so it’s actually no surprise to hear that Pittsburgh was in talks with the Cowboys regarding this.
It remains to be seen whether or not they decided against holding joint practice or if they will seek another partner with whom to conduct said practices. The Bills have in recent years pretty frequently held joint practices, including with the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons. To the best of my knowledge, they do not currently have a team lined up this year with whom to engage in joint sessions, so another go-around with Buffalo could be in order, as long as nobody TikToks.
Given that they helped petition the league to restore joint practices, one would think the odds are pretty good they will ultimately reach an agreement with somebody over the course of the next month or so. Things are just getting back to normal and plans are being approved, so it’s a process this year more laborious than usual.