PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – Thousands of hours have been spent creating safe environments for athletes, but it all could fail by one young man making a poor choice. Head coach Mike Tomlin is in charge of getting that point across to his Steelers team.
“You message it thoughtfully,” Tomlin said of discussing health responsibilities to his players. “You use catch phrases. You guys know I like catch phrases. What you are talking about is conduct that is detrimental. That is a term that is used often in our business and appropriately so.”
“In this COVID environment if you aren’t exercising discretion and being thoughtful about how you move, that conduct is detrimental to your cause and to ours collectively.”
“We like to sit around and think we are very prepared,” said offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. “This is a unique situation. We are going to have to beat the virus as best we possibly can every day.”
It is so much easier said than done. Just put yourselves in the helmet of an in-shape, popular athlete with money. With restrictions trying to keep players safe, when players aren’t at the Steelers facility for a specific reason, they must leave. So instead of hanging around their peers and coaches, where they can be supervised, they have much more free time on their hands.
What will they do with that free time?
Now you understand in a normal year why Tomlin loves the controlled environment of training camp at St. Vincent College an hour away in Latrobe.
“Right now football is the most important thing, I’m not going to jeopardize this opportunity by going and putting myself at risk,” said rookie Alex Highsmith. “Not only am I putting myself at risk if I go out and do something, I’m putting all of the guys and all of the staff here at risk as well. Putting others before myself is the mindset I’m having.”
Those are the words his teammates, coaches, staff and fans want to hear, but it just takes one mistake. Ask the Rutgers football players or Miami Marlins baseball team.
“There has been a lot of work to position ourselves to be where we are right now,” Tomlin said. “It’s one fail, all fail in this environment.”