Steelers want payback vs. Bengals
• Beating the Broncos on Monday night was great, but when you play for the Steelers, every week is a big week. It doesn't matter if the game is on a Sunday, a Monday or a Thursday. They're all big games. This week, first place in our division is on the line.
• I know I'm lucky to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, and to be a part of an organization with such a winning tradition. We have a great thing going here, and I think it all starts with the quality of the players. The Steelers are a group of guys who care more about the team than about the individual. We don't have players trying to be in the spotlight, or a bunch of trash-talkers. We have team guys. The Steelers are great at finding these kinds of players and getting them here. Now that we've built a tradition around these players, and this mentality, that trickles down from the veterans to the younger guys, like me. And as new guys join the team, I'll continue to pass on this tradition myself.
Despite all this, I have a few friends on other teams who don't want to play for the Steelers because they feel like the organization won't pay them the money they want. Maybe the Steelers aren't known for paying the highest salaries. But what
• Concussions have been a huge story this season, and it seems like head injuries are becoming almost common. I've been lucky -- I've never had a concussion, so it's impossible for me to say what it feels like. I think team doctors do as much as they can to be cautious and keep players safe after they have a head injury. Multiple concussions can definitely add up, and if one of our players isn't right, the Steelers' doctors keep them on the sidelines.
Unfortunately, there's no way to completely prevent concussions from happening on the field. They've made some advances in helmets -- some of them almost look like hockey goalie masks -- and they say those will help prevent head injuries. But come on, no helmet is going to prevent a concussion. Sometimes guys get hit a certain way, from a certain angle, and a concussion just happens.
• As a player, you're always tempted to say, "I'm feeling good," even if you're not. One time when I was playing college ball at Michigan, I had a hairline fracture in my forearm. It wasn't a serious injury, but it was painful. I was in a cast for two weeks, and when the doctors cleared me to play they warned me that I would still experience some pain. I had a soft cast over it, but I could still feel it when I got in a three-point stance, or anytime I tried to push or pull on offensive linemen. I just wasn't as strong, and anytime someone chopped my arm, it would seriously hurt. As a player, it's up to you -- you have to decide how you feel, and whether you can go out there on the field.
I think about my health and future all the time. There's life after football. When I'm done playing this game, I want to be able to walk away and be healthy for the rest of my life. If you have kids, you want to be able to play with them, not limp around and take medication every day. I have a daughter, and I want to be able to play with her when she gets older. All players think about these things.
How does a player know when it's time to hang it up? That's hard for me to say. I've talked to a couple veterans on my team,