Yesterday, Mike Wagner, Gerry "Moon" Mullins and the biggest star of them all, Bill Nunn III, watched practice from the sidelines.
Bill Nunn III is the son of superscout Bill Nunn, Jr., who recommended the drafting of several black-college stars in the 1960s and 1970s, and who is still with the team.
Bill Nunn III was the first black ballboy for the Steelers. He's better recognized, though, as an actor in 52 films, including "Spiderman", "Spiderman II", "Runaway Jury", "The Last Seduction", "Sister Act", "New Jack City", "Glory", "Regarding Henry" and "Cadillac Man."
Nunn is currently filming a documentary about American life in the years 1967-73, when he was 14 to 20 years old. Events such as the moon walk, the Vietnam War and the civil unrest at the time will be juxtaposed against his time with the Steelers and illustrate his coming of age. His film crew was part of a media throng at St. Vincent College that also included NFL Films, among many other organizations.
"I haven't been to St. Vincent in years, but it's amazing how little it's changed, especially the area around here," Nunn said. "It's still very pristine, very pastoral; it's beautiful up here. I just get a warm feeling driving up to this place. I have such nostalgia and love for my experience here. It's a real pleasant feeling."
Nunn recalled how he'd wanted to become a sports videographer. He was given an opportunity but it didn't work out.
"Basically I sucked," he said. "The first game I shot was an exhibition game. Evidently it was terrible and coach (Chuck) Noll asked me to look in another direction. So secretly I had plans to get into a sports career, but I ended up going back finishing school and decided to pursue an acting career."
His first break occurred when he earned a role in Spike Lee's film "School Daze." It led to a role in "Do the Right Thing" and he's been working ever since. He said his favorite film is his first.
"‘School Daze' was pretty good because as they say it's never as good as the first time. The thrill of finally realizing that I'm actually making a film that's going to be here forever is pretty thrilling. I could've retired after that."
Nunn said he interviewed several former Steelers for the film, which he expects will come out next March. His best interview may have been his dad.
"It was great," he said. "But he's so low key, man. I asked him about the Immaculate Reception and I couldn't get any excitement out of him. But that was a pivotal moment for me."
-- With Jerome Bettis sitting out the practice, line coach Russ Grimm put a life-sized cardboard cutout of Bettis into what would've been his spot in the team stretch. When it was knocked over by a breeze, several players began shouting, "Get up, Bus, get up!"
-- Eight coaches and administrators, including coach Bill Cowher and both coordinators, watched 11 players – the tight ends and linebackers – in blocking drills, and almost all were needed to break up a fight between Walter Rasby and rookie free agent Andre Frazier.
-- Rookie linebacker Rian Wallace was kneed in the head during punt drills. He was attended to by four trainers and eventually returned to action. "I think he was a little groggy. He knew he was in Latrobe but that's about it," said Cowher.
-- The hardest hit of the day was delivered by safety Tyrone Carter, who rocked rookie fullback Jim Kuhn after Kuhn caught a swing pass.
-- Wide receiver Walter Young finally dropped a pass, a beautiful pass made on the run by Brian St. Pierre, who went right back to Young on his next pass for a 10-yard gain.
-- In the red-zone drill, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a first-play touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El, who in a fluid process caught the pass, got his feet inbounds and handed the ball to a pretty blonde. Veteran moves, all of them.
Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt on why he didn't call a pass to any of the three tight ends in the lineup during the goal-line drill: "It's coming. Just give me a little chance. It's coming."
Cowher on the team's young cornerbacks: "Ricardo (Colclough) and Ike (Taylor) are probably a little bit ahead of Bryant (McFadden) right now just because they've been in the system for awhile. Our offense gives us a lot of different shifts and motions. I like what Bryant does. He has a lot of gifted athletic ability. He's an aggressive kid. I like where all those guys are right now."