Steelers Takeaways: Player Memories Through the Decades – Order Today!

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As heard on Tunch & Wolf show, ESPN, 93.7 The Fan, TribLIVE Radio, KDKA, SB Nation Radio and more!

Our new book Steelers Takeaways – taking the best stories and quotes from over 400 Steelers interviews and breaking them down by topic and generation – is now available. Order via Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

See what these former Steelers and others have to say about the book!

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Exclusive with Steelers Tight End Eric Green, 1980-1984

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First, can you let us know what you’ve been doing with yourself since your time in the NFL?

I was coaching youth football for the past two years but stopped now since my son’s now playing baseball instead of football. I’m following him full-time – following him and his dream.

I’m retired now. And I’m giving back to the inner city community – that’s my passion. Seeing kids follow their dreams through athletics and coaching them to succeed.

What coach and coaching lessons really helped inspire you as a coach?

My college coach Sam Rutigliano – he made the total difference in my life.

How so?

He showed how player-coach relationships should be. Total honesty – one-hundred percent real. It was the truth – like it or not. And he was positive – he helped show people what they could be if they put in the time and the effort.

As a first round pick, were you surprised to be picked by the Steelers and that early?

Not really. I had one helluva senior year in college. My statistics were overwhelming. My one-on-one workouts, they opened up some eyes. The combine, eyes really opened…the Hula Bowl opened up people’s eyes. It was a progression.

Coach Rutligliano came to the team my senior year and told me the first day he met me I’d catch sixty-to-seventy balls. I caught sixty-three. He was a life-changer. I didn’t have those stats all three years combined before.

So three weeks before the draft, the Steelers sent their wide receivers coach Dwain Painter to work me out. He threw seventy-to-eighty balls to me and I didn’t drop one. I think that sealed the deal for them.

Was the NFL system complicated, coming from a smaller school like Liberty?

Not for me. In the NFL I was in Joe Walton’s system and there was no more complicated system than his. I was the focal point in his system. I was a bright guy – learning the system like the back of my hand wasn’t a problem. Rutigliano really prepared me for the NFL

Did any of the Steelers players help mentor you most on and off the field?

Oh yeah – Louis Lipps was my locker mate – I appreciate all that he taught me,  It was more than just football – about life. All that he went through – he went through a lot and taught me a lot.

Did your faith play a big part in how you approached the sport?

We didn’t have much as a kid – but we always went to church! I tell my son, get on your knees, because God is the only one who will lead you. That’s just the background of me. Faith helped me with the temptations of the professional arena.

I’m not sure many people know how versatile you were as a payer. You played running back, receiver and tight end as a rookie – what led to that versatility?

One thing is I always considered myself an athlete first. Baseball and basketball were my first sports – football was third. I always had good feet and coordination. Football came easy to me. They believed in my skills – they drafted me for a reason.

Tell me a bit about some of the funnier moments on the team while you were there…

When I first got there – Keith Willis, Terry Long, bless his soul, and trainer Ralph Berlin – the way the communicated, I though they hated each other, Just the way they said things to each other. As a rookie, I always thought it was the strangest relationship. But man, they loved each other.

Oh – and here’s a good story. The rookies were always in charge of bringing in donuts on Mondays. I held out a lot of my rookie year so I didn’t know the rules. So my first Monday I didn’t bring any donuts. So a player stopped me. Not just any player. Mean Joe Greene stopped me! He asked me where the donuts were. He explained to me the rules and told me to bring them next time, And to bring chocolate cookies for him!

Mean Joe Greene was my idol – I was raised as a Steelers fan. Greene was my favorite player. To be around there for my first two years with him was a Godsend.

Talk to me about the financial part of the game. You’re familiar with LeVeon Bell’s franchise tag situation and potential holding out decision. You’ve lived through that as a player – what were your thoughts as you went through that?

Well you’re talking to the right guy – I was the Steelers first franchise player. I went through the same thing as Bell. I was young and immature – I felt the team didn’t give me the ball enough in the championship game. Cowher asked me the next day if I wanted to be a Steeler. I told him no, It was the dumbest mistake of my life, I didn’t think he wanted me. When he first met me he said I was one of his core guys – but he didn’t offer me a contract after that.

Did your teammates get angry at you for holding out?

No – I didn’t get anger from any of my teammates. Not one. We were all in the same boat – especially with the Steelers. Everyone except Rod Woodson!

Post-NFL, how hard was the adjustment to your post-NFL life?

I always had my degree. I loved to coach. I coached in NFL Europe – for Frankfurt and won a championship with them. I also worked with Mike Tice in Minnesota and the great George O’Leary who hired me at UCS as their tight ends coach. Pro football was my passion, but when my knees went out on me I filed for disability.

Looking at the tight end position today in the NFL, what do you think about how the position has changed since you played and how you helped shape that transition?

All that Gronk is doing now, I lined up in those same spots he does now in ’90 and ’91 and had the same success. In my mind I started that stuff but it’s never talked about. But that’s fine – the guys I played with still call me and tell me that all the time. It’s a testament to Joe Walton who trusted me, and to Chuck Noll who trusted him. They believed in me.

Any advice you’d give players today?

Work hard. God will reward that hard work. God harnesses hard work – not slackers.

Read more by former Steelers via the book Steelers Takeaways: Player Memories Through the Decades To order, just click on the book:

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Exclusive: Woody Widenhofer, Steelers Linebacker Coach & Defensive Coordinator, 1973-1983

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First, how did you find your way to Pittsburgh as their Linebackers  Coach in 1973 when you started with the Steelers?

I was the Linebackers Coach at the University of Minnesota previously, but I had coached at Michigan State before that. George Perles was the coach there and he used to be the Steelers Defensive Coordinator. So when the job opened up he recommended me to Chuck and I interviewed with him and he hired me.

Why do you think he wanted you to take over?

I had no experience as a player or coach in the NFL. But he told me he was looking for a teacher. That was his primary goal – he wanted someone to come in and teach his stuff to the players.

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Exclusive with Steelers Linebacker LaMarr Woodley, 2007-2013

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You’re a busy guy! So let’s start with some of the work you’re doing now with your LaMarr Woodley Camp5 6 program – tell us about that?

Well, Camp 56 is designed for all kinds of athletes. High school athletes who aren’t getting attention from colleges come to the camp – and we have coaches from D2 and D3 schools come in to work wth them to try to find those diamonds in the rough. Many of these kids are from small school, schools with bad teams or who have coaches that don’t do a great job of getting the word out about their players.

We give these kids the college feel – we bring it to life. I’ve been doing this for two years now. We had eighty kids last year – we try to keep it small so that all of the kids get reps and exposure. So far twenty-two of these kids have gotten scholarships.

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Exclusive with Greg Lloyd, Steelers Linebacker, 1988-1997

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First, let’s talk about your Tae Kwon Do experience – I’m curious how you got started with that and why?

It was my first year in the league. I tore my ACL the second day of camp and I needed total reconstructive surgery on my left knee. Terry Long was taking Tae Kwon Do and he took me with him. I wanted an edge to help me with my rehab. Terry told me about the master at his studio and now I’ve been seeing him for twenty-plus years.

I started it to make my knee stronger, but before I knew it I was doing competitions and fighting and competing, I was in competitions for a while but due to my contract I had to stop competing, Now, I don’t so it as much as I used to. Everyone wants to get to the ninth degree black belt – I’ll keep it going and we’ll see.

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Exclusive with Steelers Cornerback Terrish Webb

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First, you more excited or nervous about camp starting this week?

I’m more excited about the opportunity ahead of me. It’s my first NFL camp – I’m just excited to get started.

How has being a local guy and Pitt alum helped you – especially as you’ve practiced as a college player next to the Steelers players? And how has having fellow Pitt alums like Orndoff, Conner, and Galambos helped you?

Yeah they’re familiar faces. You see those guys and they’re all faces you know and it makes you want to be the next guy. I’m just thankful as lots of guys don’t get that opportunity.

All of us Pitt guys – we all push each other. To do this or that and figure out what works and doesn’t work.

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Exclusive with Steelers Cornerback Brian Allen

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First, how is the offseason going for you – what have you been up to before camp starts?

Well, I’ve been back in Utah with my family – getting ready to move to Pittsburgh. I’ve been working out every day – twice a day – running at 6 am every morning…keeping my body healthy.

Coming off OTAs and your first camp, what were you biggest takeaways from those experiences?

The biggest thing is getting used to the speed of the game. The tempo – it slows down when you huddle but when it’s live, the speed is way different than college.  The terminology is different too. But the OTAs were great – minicamp was great too. Getting to work with the older guys helped a lot.

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Exclusive with Steelers Safety Jordan Dangerfield

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First, let us know what you’ve been doing with yourself over the Summer between camps?

I’m down here in West Palm Beach with my family. I’m working out in the Florida heat – it gets hot in Pittsburgh but not like here.  It’ s a different type of heat. I’m working out in Boca Raton – running and lifting twice a day.

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Exclusive with Ethan Cooper, Offensive Lineman, Steelers

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As a local (IUP) guy, you signed this year as an undrafted free agent with the Steelers. Why Pittsburgh?

I have a close relationship with one of the head guys in scouting – a former IUP guy and he talked to me about signing. When the draft got into the later rounds I knew I wouldn’t be drafted and the Steelers reached out to me. Other teams did as well but I thought Pittsburgh was the best option. Continue reading

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Exclusive with Steelers S Robert Golden

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First, let us know how OTA’s and mini-camp went this year versus last?

The addition of more cover-2 is a good thing with these new defensive backs. These new corners and Coty Sensabaugh are really making this defense better.

Tell me more about the changes and how they affect you as well.

We’re playing as a team. No individuals – it’s a team thing. We’re playing all together and coming as one to get number seven this year.

The guys behind the starters – the guys behind us will be ready. I like where our defense is at. These cornerbacks can cover the backs out of the backfield and play bump and run – the whole lot.

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Exclusive with Steelers Defensive Lineman Nelson Adams

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First, tell us a bit about how what you’re doing in the offseason now in between camps to prepare for camp?

Basically, I’m just training and working out. I just want to be in the beast shape possible for camp.

How did OTA’s and mini-camp go for you? What were you hearing from players and coaches?

Pretty well. The main thing I focused on was learning the playbook. That’s the main thing – that and giving the greatest effort I can.

The coaches just told me the biggest thing I need to work on is my technique. To keep my pad level down.

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