Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey spoke to the media on Thursday after signing his five-year contract extension and below are a few of his comments. At one point during the press conference, Pouncey became very emotional and nearly broke down crying.
I’d like to start it off first off thank Art and Mr. Rooney, Dan, Kevin Colbert, Coach Tomlin. It’s like a dream come true. I was just telling coach Tomlin outside, ‘It seems like five years all over again.’ I’m ready to start this path and help this team get back to where we need to get back to and I’m excited about the new venture and it’s really an awesome feeling. Words really can’t say enough about this.
On if he envisioned this happening:
You really don’t even think about it. I was telling one of the rookies today, Wes, we were sitting in the hot tub and I was telling him, ‘Man it flies by so fast, it feels like yesterday I got drafted and this is year five and on a new deal, and it’s really unbelievable.’ I’m so thankful for this moment right now. It’s just truly awesome
On what makes him a leader:
I think just being myself. I’m a hard worker. I go out there and try to do my best every single day. I try to give advice whenever I am asked and just try to lead by example. I think I’m a little more outspoken than most guys and I think some of the guys really appreciate that. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s not.
RE: Temptation to test free agency:
That was never on my mind. I never wanted to leave the Pittsburgh Steelers and I think with me missing all of last year, I think the contract wasn’t even on my mind. I think getting back out there and showing my team that I was ready, and getting back out there learning a new offense and getting back out there to prove myself all over again, I think that was more on my mind than anything.
Re: Important to get something done before training camp:
Honestly, I didn’t have much of a role in it. Whenever they did approach it, I told my agent to get it done as soon as possible and let us move on and think about other things.
Re: On if he thought injury last season would play a role in next contract.
I didn’t think that I was ever going to be able to walk again. The contract was the last thing. I think that football was the first thing that came to my mind. God’s been good to me. Words can’t explain this. It’s unbelievable what all is going through my head right now.
Re: On his leg strength:
I’m totally fine. I’m doing everything possible. I still do rehab all of the time with Coach Garrett Giemont and I think it’s on the right path. There’s no problems right now.
Re: What this tells him about the Steelers organization and the way they value him based on his circumstances coming off of an injury.
Words cant explain that. (long emotional pause)
Re: Was it important to him to be the highest paid center in the league.
I’m just glad to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, to be honest with you guys. (voice cracks while fighting back tears).
Re: Has he come to appreciate what it means to be a center for the Steelers with Dawson, Webster and so forth?
Most definitely. I’d do anything for this team. I think that showed over the past and I’m ready to start something new now and lead us where we need to get back to. I’m trying not to bust out crying, so it’s hard to really talk right now.