It’s always great to hear about veteran Pittsburgh Steelers players taking the younger ones on the roster under their wing in order to try to speed up their development.
Eighth-year cornerback William Gay is the latest such player to talk about assuming that leadership role on the team and he talked Thursday about how he’s doing his best to impart his knowledge of the game to not only rookie fifth-round draft pick cornerback Shaquille Richardson, but the other young defensive backs on the roster in addition to him.
By the sound of things that mentoring process is going well so far.
“They are great listeners, willing to do anything for the team,” said Gay. “Rookies coming in not solely focused on themselves and their careers but what can I do to help the team.”
Like Richardson, Gay was also drafted in the fifth-round way back in 2007 and as a rookie, he says it was then-veteran Deshea Townsend that mentored him. Gay recalled that experience Thursday.
“I was a little nervous. I was a rookie,” said Gay. “I thought they weren’t going to take me in as easy. My first year, Deshea grabbed me and said I am going to teach you everything I know. Now it’s my turn to teach a guy like Shaq (Richardson) everything I know.”
During his time with the Steelers, Gay has seen several young cornerbacks come and go. Only a few that were drafted, however, have managed to stick for more than one season and Gay’s hope is that Richardson will be fixture for several years to come so that he can continue the tradition on at the position.
“That’s how the tradition carries on,” said Gay. “We’re not going to be here as veterans for a long time. So we got to make sure when we’re sitting back watching TV, that the Steelers still have that Steeler swag where we call it, that Steel Curtain defense. Just that family atmosphere.”
Ever since he arrived in Pittsburgh, Gay has forever been a whipping boy on the defensive side of the football for a good portion of the fan base. Even though last season could very well have been the best one of his career, he still struggles to get the recognition that he deserves for it.
Say what you will about Gay, but he’s always been a team-first guy that has never caused any distractions. He always goes about his business in a workmanlike manner and always shows up every season that he’s been in Pittsburgh in great shape.
As for Gay mentoring Richardson, specifically, not only does he hope that he has a long career with the Steelers and carries on the tradition of helping out the younger players that come after him, he also has one other hope.
“Hopefully he remembers my name,” Gay said.