One of the funny things about Road Trip, my annual journey through a region of the U.S. in search of stories, is that I never know what I'll encounter.
On Sunday, while driving U.S. Route 30 through Latrobe, Pa.--about an hour east of Pittsburgh --I saw a sign for "Steelers camp." Not being local and not knowing the NFL calendar, I wondered whether this might be a sign to a fantasy camp.
Still, with my six-week journey nearly over, I was determined not to miss out on something interesting, so I turned left. Within minutes, what I had barely hoped might be true materialized: this was in fact the pro football team's actual training camp, at St. Vincent college here, and the public was invited.
I parked the Porsche Panamera 4S I've been road-testing and walked in. Before I knew it, I was watching two-time Super Bowl championship quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was recently suspended for six games by the NFL for misconduct, take snaps and throw passes. Without having had to pay a dime to do so. Or show any kind of press credentials. Anyone could have shown up.
Roethlisberger (left) and other teammates, including No. 14 wide receiver Isaiah Williams, descend steps on their way to the field for practice. Their path was met by hundreds of screaming fans hoping for autographs.
There were plenty of No. 7 jerseys in evidence at the training camp. No. 7, of course, belongs to Roethlisberger.
The quarterback attracted a firestorm of attention in the NFL off-season, when he was accused of sexual assault in Georgia. Even after prosecutors there decided not to pursue charges, the NFL suspended him for six games for misconduct.
Nevertheless, Roethlisberger is allowed to practice during training camp.