The lights will be shining on four former Steelers one last time on Friday night as they officially retire from the NFL as Steelers at the team’s night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.
Willie Parker, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith and Marvel Smith, all members of at least one Super Bowl winning team, will be honored prior to the practice.
“All four are great Steelers,” said defensive end Brett Keisel, who played with each of them. “They were great players here. Aaron has taught me so much, how to play, approach it, play with technique. Marvel Smith, we competed like crazy when I was a younger player, he used to dominate me.
“All four of them are Pro Bowlers. Joey was our fearless leader. He had a method to his madness for sure. And Willie, he was a great player that came from free agency and worked his way into a starting role.”
Linebacker Larry Foote looks at the four players as guys who brought leadership to the locker room and left their footprint on the team for years to come, especially Porter who helped him when he was a young linebacker.
“I remember being a rookie looking up to them, them showing me the ropes,” said Foote. “It’s going to be a special night, they were all special.
“Joey was one of those special teammates, he brought everyone together. He was the ultimate captain, ultimate leader. His influence is still on this team. A lot of guys learned so much from him. He is the reason why we have had so much success this past decade.”
Current Steelers defensive linemen will always hold a special place in their heart for Aaron Smith, who was more than a teammate to them.
“He is a highly positive role model,” said Ziggy Hood. “Everything I learned and gained, I gained from guys like him. It’s one last big bang before you go out.
“He will still be that guy in my eyes for every lesson he taught me and everything I learned from him. It will be a special night.”
Keisel is happy all four will get a proper send off and thank you by the thousands of fans expected at the night practice, but saying thank you to Smith might be something he can never do enough of.
“Words can’t explain how much Aaron has taught me, not just on the football field but about being a man,” said Keisel. “I look up to him so much I don’t know if I will ever be able to repay him for what he has taught me.
“It will be emotional, but I have had time to wipe the tears away and enjoy and celebrate the career he had. I will never be able to repay him for what he has done for me and the organization.”
Tags: Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Joey Porter, Larry Foote, Marvel Smith, Willie Parker, Ziggy Hood
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