The NFL exists in an era where fullbacks don’t. They’ve been phased out, replaced by speedy receivers and matchup nightmare tight ends. Fullbacks are less popular than the new Snapchat update.
But Pittsburgh has a good one. And holding onto Roosevelt Nix was a no-brainer.
Nix has done nothing but the grunt work as a Steeler. He isn’t Rocky Bleier, Larry Centers, or Jim Taylor, fullbacks who thrived with the ball. Heinz Field went bonkers when Nix scored a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens, the first of his career. The position, especially in Pittsburgh, means lead blocking and playing everywhere on special teams. It takes a certain kind of crazy to not only accept that role but thrive in it.
Nix is a little crazy…and that’s a good thing.
He’s a tone setter on both sides of the ball. On special teams, he’ll run down a kick and crack your skull in. Or make the key tackle. Flip the field, force a fumble, let the other team know who’s coming to hit them.
On offense, he’s the one doing the dirty work for Le’Veon Bell. The lead strong, the 22 double, staple runs that Nix is the catalyst for. It’s not an easy job, especially trying to block for Bell because he’s so unique, but he’s done it at a high level.
It’s a contract, and a career, Nix wasn’t even supposed to have. He was a, for lack of a better word, weird-looking defensive linemen coming out of Kent State. A successful one, mind you, but not one built for the NFL. 5’11, 248? Out of Kent State? It’s no surprise NFL teams didn’t line up at his door.
And the ones who did threw a dart wanted to play him somewhere else. Atlanta came calling to try him out at fullback. That ended with him being the first one cut out of camp, captured by the Hard Knocks cameras. You probably remember that story; here’s Nix’s reaction.
As Nix was escorted out of the building and back home, all he could offer was.
“Just gotta roll with the punches. Wait for the next call.”
And it was the Steelers who called next. They too wanted a position switch, back on defense to inside linebacker. But once the roster filled up there, they put him at fullback again. At the time, as we wrote, Nix thought it was a death sentence. With good reason, the Steelers already had an established fullback on the roster.
But you know the rest. Nix made his mark on special teams and cemented his spot in the 2015 preseason finale, blocking a punt against the Carolina Panthers. Pittsburgh had no choice but to bring him onto the roster and soon enough, he overtook Will Johnson.
Now, he’s a Pro Bowler. And under contract four more years. He epitomizes what it means to be a Steeler. Tough. Physical. Selfless. A good dude who deserves every cent of whatever the team is going to wind up paying him.