When the Pittsburgh Steelers do sign free agents of relative significance, which is somewhat rare in comparison to the rest of the league, one of the things that they really try to take into consideration is whether or not that player fits their personality in the locker room. They usually have success doing this, but that hasn’t always been the case.
This isn’t about the outliers, though, nor it is even about those who came in and adopted the Steelers Way, like James Farrior and Kimo Von Oelhoffen and Ryan Clark. Right now, I’m just talking about Donte Moncrief, the sixth-year veteran wide receiver who signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the team earlier this offseason and has really seemed to fit in well so far both on and off the field.
Moncrief does understand the position he’s in. The Steelers are trying to replace Antonio Brown, and they have a couple of high, young draft picks they are looking to develop. He is the ‘old’ guy in the room. And he’s determined to do a lot more than just mentoring from the sidelines. Because he simply loves to play, and everything involved in that. he talked about his love for the game and how it developed recently in answering a questionnaire posted on the team’s website.
In response to a question about when he started to dream about legitimately playing in the NFL, he recalls a story from his early teen or pre-teen years, when he was in eighth grade.
“There was a guy who told me nobody ever made it in my hometown so stop thinking about football”, he recalled, not naming that anonymous doubter. “That really pushed me to prove him wrong. I really started to take it seriously. I got my first scholarship offer and I fell in love with it from there”.
That also relates back to the response that he gave to the question of his proudest football moment to date. Even though he is a five-year veteran in the NFL, he recalled a moment—not even on the field—from high school for which he was most proud.
“Receiving my first scholarship in high school” has been the biggest moment in his football life, he told the Steelers’ website. “Seeing the first coach ever come to my high school. Seeing him with that scholarship, that made me really happy”.
Growing up in a place wherein there are no real football aspirations, to come out and be the first player from your area to be recognized in such a fashion can certainly be a big moment. It’s a lot harder to get recognized when nobody is looking for you.
But this year, one would think that Ben Roethlisberger will be looking for him. He has got about 160-plus targets to make up for with Brown no longer on the team, and somebody has to take a sizeable share of them. presumably, Moncrief is the current favorite to serve as the number two receiver on the team behind JuJu Smith-Schuster.