Technically, it’s an away game for Pittsburgh. But for many on the roster, Miami is where they call home.
Florida is an NFL hotbed and the Steelers’ roster is no exception. Artie Burns, Antonio Brown, and Eli Rogers are all from Miami and have talked about their upbringing throughout the week. Despite the glitz and glamour tourists and vacationers see, there’s an ugly underbelly away from South Beach.
All three sat down with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews earlier this week. Definitely recommend checking out the entire conversation that’s linked.
“Just talk about the different situations that’s going on down in Miami right now,” Rogers said. “Grateful to make it out. We just always keep that understanding with us. It kinda unites us and brings us together in a sense. It’s hard. We talk about it and accept what’s real and what it is.”
Rogers had originally committed to play for The U but left and followed his high school teammate and one of his closest friends, Teddy Bridgewater to Louisville. There, he’d have four successful seasons and led the team in receptions his senior year.
It’s also a game to catch up with old teammates like Dolphins’ receiver DeVante Parker, drafted in the first round last year.
Brown took a similar route after high school, going even farther north to play for Central Michigan after being a small-named recruit coming out. Despite dominating the MAC, he fell to the 6th round, and the rest, well, is history.
Burns stayed local, playing for The U, and also recognized how avoiding bad choices was critical to maximizing his football career.
“You can make that one wrong decision and it can turn your whole journey the wrong way,” he said.
Burns stayed on the right path and was widely regarded as a high character person coming out of school and the Steelers’ first round pick.
But those three aren’t the only Floridians on the roster. Anthony Chickillo grew up in Tampa but played college ball with Burns at Miami.
A little farther north and you have Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, teammates at Florida, and Vince Williams, who grew up in Davenport and spent four years at Florida State. Lawrence Timmons also played at FSU though was raised in South Carolina.
That makes up eight players on the 53 man roster, a whopping 15%. And with their friends, and Steelers’ Nation in general, sure to turn out in huge numbers, it’ll feel like they never left Heinz Field.
AB: It was a different upbringing, a rough upbringing, a lot of distractions. The things we had to grow through got us to where we are. pic.twitter.com/sgFRZDU8gJ
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 15, 2016