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Steelers Blog

Keisel didn’t have to look far for mentors

Posted by Teresa Varley on January 23, 2013 – 4:42 am


Athletes are often looked upon as role models for young children, but in some cases the athletes that kids look up to, teammates do as well.

That has been the case for defensive end Brett Keisel. During his first 10 seasons he had the perfect role model and mentor in teammate Aaron Smith, and he still looks at Smith in the same light even after Smith retired last year.

“When I first got here he was someone I looked up to,” said Keisel. “He played the game the right way with pad level, technique. He wasn’t a dirty player. He was someone who was down to earth and came to work and worked his tail off every day.”

When hearing that Keisel viewed him as a mentor, Smith was taken aback. Smith always led by example, but he never tried to force his method of doing things on anyone.

“I am honored and a little shocked,” said Smith. “I always had a way of doing things and you always hope that someone catches on to doing things that way, what I would consider the right way. I think he has done that and expanded on it even more.

“That is something professional athletes should always hold on to. You don’t know whose life you will impact. I always just tried to lead by example. I always felt you would get more done by your actions than just by saying words. I am a big believer in that. It’s nothing I was looking to do, I just believed there was a way to conduct myself and be an example, especially for the younger guys.”


Keisel is one of several Steelers who recently shared the story of who his mentor is with the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (MPSWPA) in celebration of January being National Mentoring Month. In addition to Aaron Smith, Keisel’s uncle, Ben Smith, who coached a rival football team also served as a mentor.

“He was someone who was always very encouraging to me,” said Keisel. “Every time we saw each other he helped me out with technique, with things off the field as far as being a good person and someone people could look up to. It meant a lot to me that even though we were rivals, he would help me out with the possibility that I could beat his team, which didn’t happen. He was a great man and someone as I grew up I truly appreciated.”

Keisel is grateful to both of his mentors, for his uncle for helping him along the way, and for Aaron Smith for providing an example that led to success with the Steelers.

“Since I got here I tried to be in his shadow,” said Keisel. “I tried to do everything he did. It’s got me 11 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, two Super Bowl rings, a Pro Bowl. I owe him a lot.”

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Posted in Community, News, Player | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Keisel didn’t have to look far for mentors”

  1. By tony on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Aaron was THE MAN . D misses him greatly

  2. By james pheasant on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    We need more players today like that man. And like Brett or troy ,Men with a good outlook in life and for the game. Thats what makes a championship team.
    thanks Aaron You will always be a great STEELER in my H.O.F.

  3. By Taylor on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Stand up guy! This is one player, when his time comes to hang ’em up, will be greatly missed. Great attitude, heart on his sleeve, amazing work ethic. He is s true on/off feild leader for the Steelers. Great job Brett, and you sure picked one hell of a mentor!

  4. By Willy on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Miss the man!!!! Aaron, steeler forever

  5. By Josh on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Aaron was impressive to watch. What a competitor, a player with heart, and one that gave it all every single snap. This guy will ALWAYS be one of the great Steelers. Players like Keisel and Smith dont come around often. Proud to see them in Black and Gold!

  6. By Tina Smith on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    I grew up in a town where you either loved or hated the Steelers. I was indifferent. Then, I married a Steeler fan and over years, began to silently cheer for them. Then, I got the bug. Now, I am totally in love with the Black and Gold. When I decided to buy a jersey, I didn’t want one that everyone else had. So, I researched the players to find one whose number I could wear proudly. Having the last name Smith, I started with No. 91. That was it! I was convinced that he was exactly what I was looking for in a man who played football — a decent, Christian guy who just happened to be a darn good football player. I had to special order my jersey, but when I wear it to games or anywhere, I always get comments about it. Aaron Smith is an outstanding person and we are so lucky to have had him wearing our colors. His family is beautiful and I will continue to pray for him, his son and his family. Check out his testimony on YouTube. I’m not a groupie and I’m old enough to be his mother, but he will always be my favorite (No. 99 is close!). The Steelers are full of good, decent young men and that is why I am so happy to be a fan. We are taught not to be proud, but I don’t know how else to describe what it’s like to be a Steeler fan! Thank you Brett and Aaron! (And Troy, Heath, …)

  7. By brad paisley on Jan 24, 2013 | Reply

    Aaron was a great player and a big help to bret and made him the great player he is today!!!!!

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