Are you ready for ... a run test?

<b>LATROBE -</b> Monday night football isn't in the cards for the Steelers this season, so Hank Williams Jr., crooner of the game's weekly opening number, brought Monday night football to the Steelers.

The country singer showed up at St. Vincent College yesterday to watch the run test, a day after he performed at nearby Burgettstown.

"I wore Duce Staley's number 22 for the first 30 minutes," said Williams. "At the Nashville show, where we had, gosh, like 13,000 people, they said, 'What country artist could walk on stage in Nashville with a Steelers jersey?' And guess what? Ain't no booin' goin' on either, baby. None at all."

Williams said he's been a Steelers fan since quarterback/singer Terry Bradshaw performed his dad's song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

"I've been around awhile," Williams said. "I think the whole Rooney organization is some of the class of the NFL. I mean, it really is."

Williams is also a fan of Steelers Coach Bill Cowher. The two came to know one another while Cowher was the defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs.

"This guy, to me, is the class of NFL coaches," Williams said. "I really like Bill and his family. He's just the most personable, likeable guy. He never comes on with that, 'I'm the coach of the Steelers' (attitude). I just like him. As soon as you meet him he commands respect when he's in the room. Johnny Cash is in the room or Bill Cowher's in the room, you know, it rubs off. The cream always comes to the top.

"Hey, you know, I used to be an underdog myself - 'Hank Williams, Jr., why, he don't have a chance' you know, back in the seventies.

"But things will get good. I wish we had a Monday night game this year, but I think ABC gets the Super Bowl back in two years, so wouldn't it be nice to get together at the big dance?"

Williams was asked to serve up some critical analysis of his favorite team.

"OK," he started, "we all know they've been a little leaky on the DBs back there, and like Derrick (Thomas) used to say, it's real hard for a quarterback to throw when he's lying down, so maybe (put) a little more pressure in there to where those guys aren't getting loaded up back there.

"But, no, it's not going to be another 6-10 year. No way. It's going to be on the up side from that. And of course they re-upped Bill's contract, which was a real smart thing to do. Maybe we'll be sitting around talking about this and say, 'Hey, remember that day when nobody thought they had a chance?' Everybody likes to watch a championship team grow. The Detroit Pistons just won the whole thing. Nobody gave them a chance and they walked away with the whole deal."

As reporters spoke to Williams after the Steelers' run test, Cowher waited patiently several feet away. The group of reporters then moved over to Cowher. One told him that "Coach, Hank Junior says you've got to blitz more."

"We've got to get him back on the tour," Cowher said. "He's already given me enough advice today."

Williams left Latrobe for Indianapolis, where he was due to perform nearly six hours after the Steelers finished practice.

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