I've just finished my three-day stint as the Pittsburgh Steelers pool reporter for the Pro Football Writers' of America and my overwhelming observation after watching them practice for over six hours this week is that they're a loose and football-loving team.
They really have a lot of fun at practice. There's an adage that some old coach once told his team. "Have fun out there." That's the school of coaching Mike Tomlin went to. He has no problem jawing and laughing with players before and after plays during practice. He must make some form of contact with at least three quarters of his roster in some way -- either with a barb or an arm around the shoulder and a piece of advice, or a pointed coaching principle.
I've seen Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy up close and personal as a pool reporter over the last few years, and their teams absolutely got all their work done. But I can tell you this: they didn't laugh as much as the '09 Steelers.
A wise guy might ask, are the Steelers too loose? Are they taking this gig seriously enough? I was assured by backup quarterback Charlie Batch that this is not a flippant, lack-of-respect thing. This is just how they are every week at practice.
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