The Pittsburgh Steelers have long had a reputation for being tough and intense. For so many years, their defense was called the Steel Curtain, and they've long mirrored the identity of the Steel City in which they play. It's a blue-collar town; they've always been a blue-collar team.
However, that toughness and intensity seem to have boiled over early during the 2022 NFL training camp. Steelers players were caught on camera in an intense brawl with each other.
The team was scrimmaging against itself. Sometimes these brawls break out when two NFL teams hold a joint practice and naturally have some animosity toward each other.
It's not common for a team to brawl amongst itself, but it does happen. Before making a Super Bowl run in 2015, Carolina Panthers players Cam Newton and Josh Norman were involved in a scuffle in training camp. Could the Steelers be headed down the same path?
Pittsburgh Steelers have an uphill battle in 2022
As evidenced by the apparent disdain for other team members exhibited by some players, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin faces an uphill battle this year. He has never had a losing season and probably doesn't plan to suffer one this year.
However, that's going to be a serious challenge. The Steelers are without their starting quarterback this year for the first time since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004 (they're also without Heinz as their sponsor for the first time since 2001).
Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, or rookie Kenny Pickett will earn the quarterback position. The options there are less than awe-inspiring.
They just snuck into the playoffs last year but are now without starting quarterback Roethlisberger, former No. 1 wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, and a few other key pieces.
To make matters worse, the rest of the division and conference has gotten pretty strong. The Cleveland Browns are much improved this year, especially if Deshaun Watson's suspension is shorter than expected.
The Baltimore Ravens presumably won't have injuries, and Lamar Jackson is in a contract year. The Cincinnati Bengals are unlikely to go anywhere, either.
The Denver Broncos added Russell Wilson, and the Los Angeles Chargers are on the rise. Suddenly, even with three wild card slots available, the AFC got much more crowded.
Tomlin is one of the best in the business, but he will have to prove that this upcoming season.