The First Wave
When I was five, I remember playing. I had number 36 – Jerome Bettis. He was my favorite player at the time.
I had got a poster of him and it was in my room forever. I just remember watching him – "The Bus." Everybody called him The Bus back then and I just remember everybody wanted to be The Bus. That was really it. I don't remember really watching the game when I was young, but I wanted to be The Bus.
I remember playing tight end, running back. I didn't really like football at that age. My uncle got me to play but I was a soccer player.
In the middle of a game – I quit. I kept getting hit. Had the Brett Favre chinstrap and I walked off the field crying. Everybody always likes to remind me of that [laughs]. I took a year off and the next year, I was a quarterback and we won the championship. That was when I realized I loved football.
Planting the Flag
The grind of football – especially at this level and the college level. High school is always your long days during camp, your three-a-days. But football is a game where you have to learn to trust each other. We're here all day with each other now so these are the guys that you go through the hard times, the bad times, the good times and all. These are the guys I spend all day with you have no choice but to like them [laughs]. But realize once you get together that everyone is the same except, they come from a different story. It's interesting.
You got your boys' back if they're on your team. I just think it's the grind. It's a whole year that you really play football; practices. College – it's all year. You go to war with those guys – that's what it is.
Football, you get a different feeling than any other sport. When you win, it's definitely a better feeling. It's an aggressive game, so you can really express all your anger, all that. But then that feeling of making a play in a football game, for me, I don't get a better feeling than that.
There are some great fans out there, too. I have a great fan from high school that still sticks with me to this day. It's a brother and his sister, who has cerebral palsy. They came to all my high school games, most of the Pitt games when I was there, and they travel to some away games and to some home games here. It's like she's my biggest fan. Every time she sees me, she has a smile on her face, he has a smile on his face. That's one of the reasons I love playing football. They make me want to play football.