It’s easy for a player to stand in front of cameras and talk about their play or the play of the team when things are going well. But in a season where the overall performance of the team has been disappointing, being a go-to guy for the media is never an easy thing.
But Casey Hampton has never shied away from it, never tried to avoid the glare of the camera and the probing questions, and that is why the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America voted him this year’s winner of the “Chief Award,” established in honor of Steelers’ founder, Arthur J. Rooney, Sr. and presented annually to the member of the Steelers’ organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media.
“I don’t mind talking,” said Hampton. “I don’t do a whole lot of it. I know how to talk so it doesn’t really bother me.
“It’s definitely tough (this year). It’s definitely not the result that we wanted this year, but being around this business for as long as I’ve been around, I’ve almost seen everything. Nothing surprises me and you just have to take the good with the bad, keep on being professional and keep on working. That’s just what we have to do at this point.”
And as Hampton was barely finished saying thank you for winning the award, he was asked about this year’s team and if an overhaul is needed to get back to their winning ways. As always, he was frank with his answer.
“I think it’s just a few things here and there,” said Hampton. “We’ve got a mix of young guys and older guys. We’ve got to do a better job of getting those younger guys ready to go and ready to play week-in and week-out. Not only the younger guys, but everybody needs to understand that every game is important and the gravity of every game. You can’t take any game for granted. You have to go into every game the same way, and I don’t think we did that this year.”
Hampton pointed to games early in the season, games many thought the Steelers should win but didn’t, to where problems began.
“Losing to teams that you’re not supposed to lose to, not taking anything away from teams that beat us earlier, but point blank, certain teams you are supposed to beat,” said Hampton. “We just didn’t do that.”
While the Steelers had a laundry list of injuries this year that had starters missing multiple games, Hampton wouldn’t use that as an excuse, sticking to his guns on not beating the teams they should have as the main reason they are not in the playoffs this year.
“Everybody in this league has a lot of injuries,” he said. “I’m not going to make that excuse. I’m not going to say that it’s the reason that we’re in the position we are. I think more so you’ve got to win the game you’re supposed to win early. You can’t let teams that you’re not supposed to lose to beat you early and I think that’s what got us in trouble this year.”