The Pittsburgh Steelers have built what amounts to a retractable tarp wall at the end of one of their practice fields in an apparent attempt to block the view of an adjacent office building.
Local reporters estimate that the black tarp, when stretched upward and across four permanent pillars, would stand at least two stories tall. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the tarp wall is at the southern end of the practice field closest to Pittsburgh's team headquarters at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
When asked about the tarp wall Thursday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin declined to go into details but hinted at privacy concerns.
"You know how it is, man. This is interesting times. Drones and so forth," Tomlin told reporters. "We do what we've got to do to prepare and be ready to play to have a level and fair competitive playing field."
Tomlin also said he would let the tarp wall remain "somewhat mystical" for now, leaving reporters to try to figure out its purpose. He said the team would discuss the tarp wall "directly" at some point in the future.
The Steelers are not alone in their quest for privacy at practice. Football coaches have long guarded their schemes, play calls and other matters of preparation, out of fear that they might fall into the wrong hands. At the University of Alabama, for example, the school has made an agreement with an apartment complex across the street from the football team's practice facility in which the complex stipulates in its leases that tenants are not allowed to be on their balconies and watch practice, according to ESPN.
Steelers tight end Jesse James told ESPN that he once saw a stray drone at the team's practice and thought it was "kind of sneaky."
"You always have dudes out in the parking lot, and you don't know really where they are from and they send security out," James told ESPN. "It's not something you really notice while you're practicing, but if the defense is out on the field going against the scout team, you can see stuff going on."
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Might as well go ahead and rename the place. It's Urban Meyer State University now