Today Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald huddled up with fans in a Steelers Nation Unite Huddle, answering a wide-ranging series of questions on everything from offensive scheme to living on a farm in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
But the most notable thing McDonald said during the half-hour conference call is that he sees a completely rejuvenated Ben Roethlisberger at training camp.
“I have never seen ‘7’ like this,” said McDonald, referring to Roethlisberger, “and like this, I mean he has a fire under him. He is so hungry to not only get the season rolling, but to win it all. It has been so cool to see that.”
“Looking back at it now, it was horrible to have him out last year,” McDonald continued, a sentiment that all Steelers fans no doubt agree with.
“It’s been so cool to see the transition to flying through the elbow injury, having surgery in the offseason—seeing him, talking to him through that—and now seeing him out there a couple days into camp and he is rifling the ball around. It is amazing to have that ‘7’ that I had seen when I first got here—to have him back. It’s been so cool,” he said.
On Training Camp at Heinz Field
McDonald also said that having training camp at Heinz Field hasn’t been half-bad, either.
“Of course everyone is sad to sort of end the long marriage there at Saint Vincent [College] over in Latrobe, including many fans.”
But other than “a little bit of a learning curve” for players, coaches and staff, he said, “I gotta say, it’s pretty cool to do your training camp workday at Heinz Field right in the middle of Pittsburgh,” through “obviously we miss the live interaction and things with the fans and stuff. Of course, they are all missing it too,” he concluded.
On Farm Life (with 14 Chickens and a Cow)
The conference call wasn’t strictly limited to football, though. One Steelers fan took the opportunity to ask McDonald about how farm life was treating him.
“We went off the grid” last year, said McDonald, noting that “My wife and I have always loved the idea of having a homestead.”
Now they do. “We have 14 chickens, we have a dairy cow, and we are about to add a mule to the mix to give her some company. We also are looking into possibly getting some sheep here in the future after football.
“We have a couple acres of produce planted; it’s so cool to walk out and see corn growing, our watermelon just poked through a couple weeks ago … I’m excited to crack open some watermelon here for the fall and late summer.
“It is amazing to just be able to go outside and appreciate and enjoy the beauty of nature. It’s so relaxing, it so puts you at peace,” concluded McDonald before noting that he is launching a foundation and plans to utilize the space to host Christian leaders.
In the meantime, “We have enjoyed farm life to the fullest,” he said.
Listen to the audio from today’s Steelers Nation Unite Huddle below:
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