PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers newest veteran defensive lineman, Chris Wormley, spent his first three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. It's not a conventional trade to send a third-round pick to a division rival, but for the Ohio native, it was a "dream come true."
Before being selected by the Ravens with the 74th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Wormley spent his life rooting for the black and gold. A fandom that started way back in kindergarten, the now Steeler grew up cheering through two Super Bowl wins and is looking to win a third.
In an interview with AllSteelers' Around The 412 podcast, Wormley explained that his Steelers fandom came from a shopping trip before he even knew what football was.
"So, my grandpa took me coat shopping in kindergarten and I picked out a Steelers starter jacket for a winter coat for the year, and I didn't even know I just thought the logo on the back was cool - it was the big Steelers logo on the back - and a few years later I realized it was the Steelers and the NFL and football," Wormley said. "And that's when I started playing football, so I was like, 'hey, let's hop on this team and be a fan of them.'"
Growing up in Whitmer, Ohio, there were easier options to choose from before the Steelers.
"The teams that I grew up around that were closer were the Browns, Bengals, and Lions, and growing up, they weren't the best of teams," Wormley said. "Even the Steelers the first couple of years, they had Tommy Maddox was the quarterback back then, and they went like 6-10 the first season I actually remember watching. And they picked it up and won two Super Bowls and now I'm on the team which is pretty cool to say."
Like many fans growing up in the 2000s, Wormley's favorite player is a 2020 Hall of Fame class member who electrified the field for 12 years.
"I'm not a safety, but Troy Polamalu was my favorite player," said Wormley. "I wore 43 in peewee football because of him, and then again, once I got the opportunity to in college, I got to wear 43. Just the way he played, his attitude his tenacity, his will to never give up on a play. There's just so many plays of him just coming across the field, and making tackles, diving for interceptions, like the finger-tip interception always comes to mind. He scoops it up half an inch before it hits the ground. Looking up to him as far as how he plays the game and how he handled his business on and off the field."
Growing up, Wormley's dad was a 49ers fan, and his mom was a Cowboys fans. With the support of his aunt and cousin, he was able to stick to the black and gold, but as he inched closer to the NFL, cheering for a professional team dimmed in the hopes of being part of one.
"I think towards the last two years of my college career, when I had a chance of playing in the NFL, I had to put the fandom aside," Wormley said. "And the Ravens were paying my checks and writing the checks so that kind of went away. But when I got traded back to the Steelers, I was like, 'this is kind of like a dream come true, a childhood dream.' But yeah, once I got drafted by the Ravens, I was all into Baltimore and what that city had to offer."
Back in Pittsburgh, he said, "obviously now all my family members are going to be Steelers fan again."
This season, Wormley will go from lining up across from Ben Roethlisberger to playing with him. A hometown hero growing up, Big Ben gave Wormley two championships to watch, and eventually, one of the league's scariest offenses to defend.
Now, they're teammates.
"Big Ben was definitely was someone I looked up to and watched," Wormley said. "He's from kind of the same area of Ohio that I am, so a lot of people knew him were drawn to him because of that local hometown connection to the Steelers. So yeah, the first time I lined up with him at quarterback and me on the line, it was a surreal moment. It was like a childhood dream come true moment to play against someone that I looked up to for 10-plus years before ever being in the NFL."