Latrobe set to welcome back ‘Black and Gold’


Photos by Mike Longo Jr.

No. 1 draft pick and quarterback Kenny Pickett runs through a drill at the Steelers Rookie Mini Camp on the South Side.

-PITTSBURGH SPORTS-


By Mike Longo Jr.


Big changes are in store as the Steelers prepare for the annual ritual known as training camp.

For the first time since 2019, they return home, to the place they have known for decades, the practice fields of Saint Vincent College.


Latrobe is welcoming back the Black and Gold with open arms. Saint Vincent needs this, the greater Latrobe area needs this. So hold onto your hats and get ready for the ensuing ride as Steelers Nation will arrive by the thousands as select dates and times are open to the public.

This year is a new beginning of sorts as changes abound on the campus.


The most notable, after 18 years it's the first time Ben Roethlisberger will not grace the practice fields as he now is a retired member of the Steelers. General Manager and Draft Day brain trust, Kevin Colbert rides off into retirement as well. He is replaced in the front office by the new man at the helm, Omar Kahn.


In the off-season, former Chicago Bears unrestricted free agent, Quarterback Mitch Trubisky inked a two-year deal to presumably replace Roethlisberger as the offensive captain of the Steelers ship. Well, at least that was the general consensus until Draft Day, when the team No. one selection was Pitt Panthers Quarterback Kenny Pickett. He used his fifth year of eligibility to refine his skills and up his stock in the NFL while leading Pitt to an ACC Championship.



Steelers rookie and younger brother of Cam Heyward, Connor, works on his technicalities.

He didn't have far to go to meet the Pittsburgh media at the press conference introducing the top draft picks, was actually just across the hall.


Trubisky spent four years with the Bears starting 50 of 51 games and having his best season in 2018. In 2021 he landed in Buffalo and was the backup to Bills Qurterback Josh Allen. Ironically, Trubisky originally hails from Ohio, the same state that gave us Roethlisberger. The QB Derby is shaping up to be very intriguing indeed.


At the wide receiver position, gone is fan favorite, Juju Smith Shuster who left for Kansas City. Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth can expect competition from draft picks, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III and Conner Heyward.


Yes, I said Heyward, as in younger brother of veteran defensive anchor, Cameron Heyward. Don't expect the young sibling to get lost in his brother's shadow or ride his coat tail as he made a profound impression at Rookie Mini Camp with his strong work ethic and technics in dual positions of tight end and running back.


Najee Harris will once again be the mainstay in the offensive backfield as he looks to expound on last season’s performance racking up yardage and touchdowns.


On the defensive side of the ball, along with Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick and NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J Watt will once again give opponents nightmares.


Congratulations go out to Watt on a recent personal note. July 9th was his wedding day as he married long-time girlfriend and soccer star Dani Rhodes at a beach ceremony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Much happiness to you both.


With the battle lines drawn, Camp Tomlin expects to be one of the best the Steelers, their fans and Latrobe have seen in recent memory.


 
Bucco bullpen ace Bednar an All-Star

Pirates David Bednar is living life in the fast lane these days, somewhat like a “Renegade,” as indicated by his nickname and classic Styx song which is also used as the Steelers and his own pump-up anthem.

No. 51 has many titles, including closer and bullpen ace. Now he can add another, MLB All-Star to that list after being selected to the 2022 mid-summer classic as the lone Pirates representative. That may change however with injuries and players opting out of the game.


Bednar had parental roots formerly in Stowe Township, and when available makes the monthly trip back with his dad, Andrew and brothers for haircuts and pizza.


The Western Pennsylvania native recently returned for a visit to his high school alma mater, Mars, as well. Class act and a tribute to, "Never forget where you came from".


The fireballer, age 27, is in his fourth major league season and second with the Pirates. He was drafted in 2016 by San Diego and was part of a three-team trade between the Padres, Pirates and New York Mets prior to last season.


Relief ace, Bednar is tops in the Bucs’ bullpen, posting 15 saves, the sixth most in baseball.

That compliments his 55 K's and 12 walks along with a record of 3-2 and a 2.65 ERA.

Those stats will obviously change, hopefully for the better after the All-Star break as the second half of the season picks back up.


The July 17 game was Bednar's first All-Star appearance.


 
Steelers rename Heinz Field

What's in a name? Don't ask the Steelers Nation that question as the outcry has begun in full force on social media following a decision made by Steelers ownership.


Business is business and money is money which has become the driving force in American economics these days, not that it always wasn't.


Decisions are made in the fast-paced world of finance and business pretty much every minute of every day.


So a notable business move was made by the Steelers Owner, Art Rooney II, forming a new partnership.


That decision means adios Heinz Field, welcome Acrisure Stadium. The North Shore venue will acquire a makeover complete with a new name for the next 15 years.


The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company, Acrisure, has won the bidding war acquiring the naming rights to the 21-year-old venue. With the deal sealed, an iconic long-standing Pittsburgh name comes down from the rafters.


In a statement released by Kraft Heinz interest in retaining the name was indicated.


"While we worked diligently with the Steelers for several months around a new naming rights deal, they found a new partner willing to pay significantly more then we could justify.


While our name will no longer be on the stadium, Heinz will remain a significant, long-term sponsor of the Steelers and we're excited to announce details of our new partnership in the days ahead," according to the release.


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