Larry Foote once left the Pittsburgh Steelers voluntarily, having become all too aware that he would soon be demoted to make room for third-year linebacker Lawrence Timmons in the starting lineup. He asked for his released and signed on with his hometown Detroit Lions for a season before realizing that he would rather be a reserve in Pittsburgh than a starter elsewhere.
The Steelers released him again this season, but that hasn’t at all changed the way that he feels about the organization, or the city. He now joins the Arizona Cardinals, which for many seasons now has felt a bit like a retirement home for former Steelers, including former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who became the head coach there after he ‘retired’ from the Steelers.
He may be in Arizona now, but according to Foote, Pittsburgh is still his city:
“I’m happy with the run I had there. I was so fortunate. A lot of our core guys through those two championships we stayed together over a decade. It ran its course. I got two Super Bowls and Pittsburgh will always be my home. I’ll always be connected to the city”.
He’s right about that group having run its course. There are very few holdovers remaining from that championship run on either side of the ball. Only Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu have been involved in both Super Bowl titles on defense.
Year by year, more of those pieces are being replaced. James Harrison has been replaced by Jarvis Jones, while Foote himself replaced his former running mate, James Farrior, a couple years back. The defensive line is entirely rebuilt as well.
And now Ryan Shazier is taking over for Foote—at least his original, mack, position. He’d served as the buck since returning from Detroit while spelling, and later replacing, Farrior.
Shazier is also taking over Foote’s number, which may be the only thing he’s not happy about when it comes to the shiny new rookie, who also just so happens to be from Ohio State, the arch rival of his own alma mater.
“I didn’t like that Buckeye getting my number”, he said, adding that he “was fired up” when he learned to whom his old number had been given.
Still, that doesn’t stop him from appreciating Shazier as a player, nor appreciating what he might be able to bring to the one team—other than Michigan—that will always have a place in his heart.
I always get my Mel Kiper on around draft days and it looks like he’s going to be an excellent player. I joked with the coaches, ‘Y’all got rid of the old [car] for a new Ferrari’. He’s surrounded by some good coaches so I think he’ll be a good one. If he can get it upstairs and have that toughness I’m quite sure he’s going to be a player in this league for a long time.
When you’re not only taking over a guy’s position, but even his number, it’s probably not a bad thing to get his blessing. Especially when that guy is Larry Foote, one of the most respected members of that locker room over the course of the past decade or so.