Jonathan Dwyer is no stranger to facing adversity. As a kid he battled challenges in school, fighting to try and retain the information he learned in class each day, drawing a blank during the middle of a test, even though he knew the answer.
It was frustrating for him, watching his grades suffer even though he was a smart kid. He just couldn’t remember things.
It wasn’t until a teacher at Shiloh Hills Christian School in Georgia suggested that the fifth-grader see a doctor that he learned what the problem was. He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD), a disorder associated with hyperactivity that results in lack of attention and concentration and impaired short term memory.
Dwyer said it was the “greatest thing that happened in my life,” getting the diagnosis, because he could now move forward, treat it, and fight back.
Thanks to the treatment, the problems with ADD are in Dwyer’s rear view mirror, but dealing with adversity isn’t.
In the Steelers 34-31 loss to the Oakland Raiders earlier this season, Dwyer fumbled in the second quarter with the Steelers up 14-7. The Raiders recovered, and eventually turned it into a game tying touchdown.
The next week Dwyer learned he would be inactive for the Philadelphia Eagles game when he walked into the team meeting room and Coach Mike Tomlin had written as much on the message board.
“That is how I found out,” said Dwyer. “That is how we do business. He is honest, straight forward and I appreciate that. It makes me work harder and eliminate my problems and mistakes from my game.
“I made a mistake and learned from it and moved on. It’s a situation you go through, live with and try to make the best of it and move on.”
Dwyer, who was also inactive the following week against Tennessee, doesn’t feel like he was unfairly singled out because of the fumble, as there was nobody more disappointed that it happened than he was.
“It should have never happened,” said Dwyer. “I was disappointed with myself. You make mistakes. But I don’t think I was being punished.
“It’s something to learn from and you humble yourself and get better and try to make the most of your next opportunity.”
With Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman both sidelined with injuries against the Bengals, the running game was in Dwyer’s hands. And this time, he responded with the same vigor he had as a fifth-grade kid responding to the challenge. He came out in the game on fire, becoming the Steelers first 100-yard rusher of the season with 122 yards on 17 carries.
“It feels good,” said Dwyer. “It makes you know what you can do and believe in yourself and go off the momentum and keep going.”
Dwyer doesn’t know what his playing status will be this week as injuries continue to play a part in the running back rotation. But whatever the role is, he will be ready.
“I am getting myself prepared for it if it is there,” said Dwyer about getting playing time. “I am trying to (make the most of my opportunities). I am not there all the way. I am not where I want to be. I want to be the best I can possibly be. I am taking steps each and every day.”
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