It’s easy for a player who was drafted high by the Pittsburgh Steelers and who spent his entire career within that circle of influence to speak highly of the organization. I’m always intrigued to hear more of an outsider’s perspective, whether it’s players who were acquired from other teams or veterans who were brought back after playing elsewhere.
This is something that I’ve written about on several occasions over the course of the past five years, and it’s pretty easy to find. There are some great quotes from players like Byron Leftwich, Matt Spaeth, Will Allen, and of course William Gay, who have all gotten the opportunity to compare their experiences with other organizations. All four of them had two separate stints playing for Pittsburgh, two of them originally signed as free agents.
We have also already heard from Joe Haden a number of times about his experience coming to the Steelers. A 2010 first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, he was released last August and Pittsburgh signed him the same day, so he hasn’t even been here for a full year, but he has fully embraced the city, the culture, and the organization.
Tight end Vance McDonald arrived in a somewhat similar fashion, albeit in his case via trade. But he came to Pittsburgh late in the process and is only experiencing his first real offseason with the Steelers now, having time to reflect.
The veteran tight end recently spoke to the team’s website, answering a number of questions for one of their many offseason articles as many players do. The final question he was asked, as all are, was what ‘Steelers football’ means to them.
“You get here and you sort of forget all of the cliché things you hear about the Steelers”, he said. “When you first get here you kind of forget about them because you are trying to observe, get settled, meet people, and learn personalities. It’s a ton of stuff. Then you look back on it and you say it’s no wonder people say the Steelers are champions, that they are hardworking”.
As we all know, of course, Pittsburgh is actually not hardworking because Mike Tomlin just lets everybody do what they feel like doing, and this lack of discipline is the only reason that the team hasn’t won every single Super Bowl over the course of the past 11 years. Be that as it may, that is a lesson McDonald will have the opportunity to learn over time.
“You get here and you realize there’s a reason everyone is so good”, the tight end continued. “It’s the accountability and work ethic everyone has. It’s unbelievable.
His only point of reference is with the San Francisco 49ers, but he did come toward the end of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure there. But we have heard from a lot of players who came from all different organizations come here and speak about the differences. Rarely do we hear players go to other places and have anything bad to say.