Rookie running back Master Teague III may be a born-and-bred Tennessean, and he may have played his ball for Ohio State, but as far as professional football goes, he told reporters yesterday, his heart has always been in Pittsburgh.
“Actually, growing up, that’s my team, waving the Terrible Towel in bonus room screaming, family watching the game”, he told reporters during his first media availability as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, via the team’s website. “I’m excited to be here. It’s a blessing, so I’m just looking to take advantage of every opportunity I get”.
Signed on August 3 after the Steelers placed Jeremy McNichols on the Reserve/Injured List, Teague is the latest rookie running back on the roster, joining Jaylen Warren and Mataeo Durant, who were signed immediately after the 2022 NFL Draft. Teague was originally signed after the draft by the Chicago Bears, but he was released after just a few days.
He remained unsigned until he got the call from Pittsburgh, an opportunity that he embraced eagerly both personally and professionally, as the black and gold tradition runs generations in his family, saying that he got it from his parents.
“They were Steelers fans, so I just grew up with that”, said the 22-year-old. “Just watching the old heads, Troy [Polamalu] and [Hines] Ward and [Rashard] Mendenhall and all them, it was cool to see. [James] Harrison. It’s cool to be here, to be around just soaking it all in”.
Of course, for many of you, Mendenhall, and even Ward, wouldn’t qualify as the ‘old heads’, but keep in mind, he wasn’t even born when Ward was drafted. He was eight years old when the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2008, Mendenhall’s rookie season, during which he was injured.
So that may be the generation that he grew up watching, but he’s definitely heard stories from his parents, whom he told reporters were clearly very happy about which team their son was signing with…even if pops tried to play it cool.
“Mom, she was emotional. She was excited”, he said about his parents’ reaction. “Dad, he tries to keep a straight face and everything, but I know behind the scenes, he was, you know, kind of down there. But they were excited”.
At the same time, both he and his parents know that this is just the first step, the foot in the door. He still has a long way to go before he earns a job that extends beyond training camp, whether that’s on the 53-man roster or the practice squad.
There is an opening at that third running back position, with third-year veteran Anthony McFarland also in that mix, along with Warren, but they will keep at least one running back on the practice squad as well, if not two. And if he should ever get into a game, his parents, he says, already have all the Steelers gear they could possibly need.