Steelers’ defensive end Brett Keisel was among a handful of NFL players who took part in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday.
Keisel was there on behalf of the NFL’s Play 60 campaign, encouraging kids to stay active and play for 60 minutes a day.
“It was amazing,” said Keisel. “When we got there I couldn’t help but think about the last time I was at the White House, with my teammates celebrating the Super Bowl XLIII victory.
“I really appreciate the NFL’s Play 60 movement because I know with my kids if they don’t get outside and play for a day they go crazy. It’s so much better for them, so much healthier to get them active and do things kids need to do to be healthy and happy.”
Keisel, along with 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, Giants receiver Victor Cruz, and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, led kids in fun and games, but also got a treat of their own when they met President Barack Obama.
“It was awesome,” said Keisel. “It wasn’t just Mr. President but it was the whole first family we met. It was an honor for me. I told him Ambassador (Dan) Rooney said hello. I gave him some ‘Beard’ gear. He knew about the beard and who I was and that was an honor for me. I hope he goes out and drains some threes wearing the ‘Beard’ gear.”
Keisel, who was joined by his wife Sarah and three children, also had an opportunity to see some of the monuments in Washington, D.C.
“You look around and see all of the history, and all of the monuments to immortalize our country it makes it really special,” said Keisel. “It was pretty surreal today. It was just a cool thing. We saw the memorials and it’s so humbling to see those and walk around and think about our great country and how lucky we are to have all of the freedoms and rights we have.”
Tags: Brett Keisel
Posted in Community, News | Comments Off | Print this Post
As Brett Keisel walked into Kyla Ruffing’s room at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the shy eight-year old looked surprised, and then broke into a sweet smile as she looked at the big guy standing beside her hospital bed.
When asked who it was, she didn’t say Keisel, but instead gave a much simpler answer, “The Beard.”
“It was amazing,” said her mother Danielle Nagel. “I was really blown away. I wasn’t expecting him to walk through the door. It was great to see him.”
Ruffling quietly talked with Keisel, showing him what she was building with Lego’s. Then she slowly started coming out of her shell, pulling out the reason she knows him as “The Beard,” her own oversized beard she put on to compare to Keisel’s. Keisel admired the look, the two smoothed out their beards, and he even signed a team photo for her that read, “You have the best beard I have ever seen.”
“It was awesome,” said Keisel, who also enjoyed seeing other patients on the floor play with their beards. “To see them play along with it, they had so much fun with it. Kyla was so filled with life and joy. When so much is happening that she could be filled with negativity, she was exuberant and joyous and lifted me up. Seeing them run around with their beards and turning around and making them into mullets, it was awesome.”
It’s Keisel’s beard that has incredible meaning for the kids at Children’s Hospital, particularly those on the oncology floor where he visited. In another week he will shave off the beard at his annual “Shear Da Beard” event, and all proceeds go to cancer programs at the hospital.
“It’s great,” said Dr. Jake Cooper, the attending physician in hematology and oncology. “Our floor is full always. We do our best to keep the kids happy and distracted when they are going through some tough medications and serious diagnosis. Having a local hero like Mr. Keisel show up is a wonderful surprise for the kids to have.”
Keisel went room to room, giving the kids Steelers teddy bears, bracelets and signed team photos, but also giving them smiles, hugs and love. And they gave him something much more.
“Every time I go in there I can’t help but get filled with emotion,” said Keisel. “The things these families and kids have to go through with their treatment, it’s very tough. It does fill me with emotion, but it fills me with pride at the same time knowing I am helping in a small way.”
He is helping in a much greater way than he realizes. It’s not just the financial impact that shaving the beard has, it goes far deeper.
“It’s a symbol, it’s a yearly tradition and the people here know it’s for them,” said Cooper. “The people here view his huge mammoth beard as a sign of his affection for Children’s Hospital and his support for all of our patients. They love it. You see a lot of fake beards being worn by the kids for solidarity and team spirit.”
And they are beards that will lovingly be worn long after Keisel shaves his off.
Keisel and Kyla Ruffing.
Keisel and 15-year old Jeremy Coast.
Keisel and 11-year old Jetta Moore
Tags: Brett Keisel
Posted in Community, News, Player | 10 Comments » | Print this Post
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.”
Tags: Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel
Posted in Community, News, Player | 7 Comments » | Print this Post
Brett Keisel has one of the most famous beards not just in sports, but in existence, but it won’t be around for much longer.
Keisel is ready to cut it all off when he hosts the third annual “Shear Da Beard” on Thursday, February 7 at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille.
Fans can watch as celebrity barbers take the scissors to the beard, with all proceeds from ticket sales benefitting the cancer programs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC.
And once the beard is gone, rest assured in due time he will start to grow it back in time for the 2013 season. He might even try and inspire some of the young players to partake in the beard growing, including Cam Heyward who Keisel said could eventually carry on the beard torch.
“I would love to take over the mantel one day, but I think it’s more genetics than anything,” said Heyward, sporting stubble but not a beard. “I don’t know if I have the genetics to pull it off.
“The last time I had a beard was during training camp. It was too itchy. I think when Keisel wants to pass it on I am going to make a statue of his beard and say this is what it should look like and never show my face.”
In addition to seeing Keisel’s beard go, guests will be treated to live performances by Chris Higbee and Donnie Iris, and can bid on some unique items in a live and silent auction.
Tags: Brett Keisel, Shear Da Beard
Posted in Community, News | 2 Comments » | Print this Post
As Steelers Jonathan Dwyer, James Harrison, Doug Legursky and Brett Keisel entered one of the hangers at the Air National Guard’s 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh, you could see the excitement on the faces of those who serve this country, seeing players they cheer for on Sunday afternoons right in front of them.
But for the players, on this day they weren’t the heroes, the ones people look up to. Not even close. It was the men and women in uniform who were the heroes.
“You get to see what they do to protect and serve us and give us the freedoms we have,” said Harrison. “It’s obvious they are the true heroes. We go out here and play a game and we consider it battle. They go out there and put their lives on the line and they don’t come home. I’m going to come home after a game.”
The visit, done in conjunction with USAA, was a part of the Steelers “Salute to Service” in honor of Veteran’s Day. The players were there to say thank you to those who serve the country and learn a little bit more about what they do on a daily basis.
Part of the tour of the base included learning the different aspects of their job, from refueling planes in battle to helping close to home as some members were recently deployed to the New York/New Jersey area to help in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
“It’s a great opportunity and we are so happy they came here,” said Colonel Tony Carrelli, Wing Commander at the guard base. “One of the great things about a guard unit is we are a community Air Force, we are the Pittsburgh Air Force. We are strong to our ties to the community. There is such great support. Any time we can host someone on the base it’s a great opportunity because they are so supportive of us.
“As you walk around the base you see Pennsylvania. The patches have been adapted to show that. We go all over the world supporting missions and people look at us and say you are Pittsburgh.”
The most obvious symbol of Pittsburgh is the Steelers logo and Terrible Towel painted on the nose of one of the KC-135 Stratotanker jets that are used for refueling missions.
“To see the picture on the jet explains it all and how much pride they have in Pittsburgh,” said Dwyer, who has family that served in the military. “It’s a great feeling and it motivates you more to go out and do our jobs each and every day because they fight for us to be able to do what we do every day, wake up and not worry about anything.”
The players got a tour of the jet, with Harrison sitting in the pilot’s seat trying to convince them to let him turn on the jets, to Legursky, Dwyer and Keisel, with his son Jacob, touring the entire plane, including climbing down into a small area and seeing how the fuel is transferred from one plane to another.
“It was awesome,” said Keisel, who has family currently serving and many military veterans in his family as well. “All of these people here are our heroes. They protect us, protect all of our rights. To have the opportunity to and bring my son and show him about these guys and what they do is awesome.”
The team was presented with a photo of the plane, and in return the unit was given a helmet signed by Dan Rooney, Sr., Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin and the four players on hand.
The most exciting part for the players, though, was when they had the opportunity to sign where the logo is painted on the nose of the plane and the realization that every time that plane takes flight for a mission, their names will be on there.
“That plane going overseas and on so many missions, with that art on the nose of the plane and to have my signature on it and it continue to serve our country, it’s a pretty big honor,” said Legursky, whose father Wayne served in the 82nd Airborne. “Coming from a military family it’s close to my heart. To come out here and hang out with people who serve is the least I can do for everything they do for our country.”
Tags: 171st Air Refueling Wing, Brett Keisel, Doug Legursky, James Harrison, Jonathan Dwyer
Posted in Community, News | 5 Comments » | Print this Post
The Steelers Huddle Show will air on KDKA-TV on Saturday’s at 11:35 p.m.
Show tapes at Heinz Field and is hosted by KDKA’s Bob Pompeani with a special Steelers gues each week.
There is a $5 admission charge. Parking is available in the Stage AE Parking Lot for $5.
6:30 PM – Doors Open
7:30 PM -Show Taping Begins
The first four weeks taping is in the FedEx Great Hall and then moves to the East Club Lounge the last four weeks.
Wed., Sept. 12 - Steve McLendon and Heath Miller (FedEx Great Hall)
Wed., Sept. 26 - Brett Keisel and Maurkice Pouncey (FedEx Great Hall)
Wed., Oct. 9 - (FedEx Great Hall)
Thurs., Oct. 24 - (FedEx Great Hall)
Wed., Nov. 7 – (East Club Lounge)
Wed., Nov. 21 – (East Club Lounge)
Tues., Dec. 5 – (East Club Lounge)
Wed., Dec. 19 – (East Club Lounge)
Tags: Brett Keisel
Posted in Player | Comments Off | Print this Post
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley knows what is expected from the Steelers defense, and he knows giving up 34 points – especially when the offense puts 31 points on the board – isn’t what the standard is.
“I know when our offense goes out there and puts that many points on the board they’re giving us an opportunity to win the game,” said Woodley. “It’s our responsibility on the defense to go out there and shut teams down, and we didn’t do that.”
Defensive end Brett Keisel echoed those thoughts following the Steelers 34-31 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, which dropped the Steelers to 1-2 on the season.
“If an offense scores 31 points you should win the game,” said Keisel. “We have to do better on defense to keep people out of the end zone.”
This loss will sit with the players a little longer than normal as they have their bye this weekend, before taking on the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field on Oct. 7.
“We’ve got to chew on that,” said Keisel. “We’ve got to chew on it for two weeks. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas on defense. I’ve got to get better. We’ll do that.”
At the same time, the bye could be an advantage, allowing the Steelers to get some players back, including safety Troy Polamalu and linebackers James Harrison and Stevenson Sylvester.
“We’ve got an opportunity to go into this bye week, have everybody rest up a bit, and come out and get ready to play some more football,” said Woodley.
Tags: Brett Keisel, LaMarr Wood
Posted in Player, Team | 24 Comments » | Print this Post
The old cliché ‘it’s not where you start, but where you finish’ sometimes rings true in sports, but for Steelers players their hope is to start and finish the season strong this year.
“You only have 16 chances to win in this league so every game is important,” said tight end Heath Miller. “You can’t afford to let one slip away early, so hopefully we can go out and get a win this week.”
Last year the Steelers opened the season on a disappointing note, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 35-7 on the road.
“It crucial to get started off on the right foot,” added defensive end Brett Keisel. “We are facing a very tough opponent. Every game is important, especially AFC games. We’re excited about this opportunity, this team, going out and getting a strong start to our season. That catapults you into the rest of the season. We are working hard to make sure that it is good. I am excited to see what this team can do for 60 minutes.”
Keisel has high expectations for the team. He knows they lost some veterans in guys like James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke and Hines Ward, but he thinks the nucleus of veterans who remain, combined with an infusion of youth is the perfect mix.
“I think the sky is the limit for this team,” said Keisel. “We have a lot of young, capable players in this locker room. They are going to get some opportunities here early. We have to be great on all three phases of the game if we expect to go where we want to go.
“Every year you have a new locker room, you have new guys step up and make plays for you. That is the way it is. We miss those guys, love them, they were legendary, but we have to continue to move forward.”
Tags: Brett Keisel, Heath Miller
Posted in News, Player, Team | 2 Comments » | Print this Post
Defensive end Brett Keisel and Pirates All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan have the most recognizable and best known beards in Pittsburgh, and all of sports for that matter, and on Tuesday they had a chance to compare them when Keisel took in the Pirates batting practice.
The two joked and laughed about their well-known beards, and the “joys” of growing and maintaining their facial hair, but these are two guys that take their beards seriously.
“His is good,” said Keisel of Hanrahan’s beard. “You can tell he puts time into it. It’s a commitment. Any time you want length and success, you have to make a commitment and that is what he is doing. I think it looks good.
“He has a different style. He doesn’t have the full go, but you have to give him props.”
Hanrahan joked that he was jealous of Keisel’s full beard, which has a website, Facebook page and merchandise line, saying that no matter how hard he tries he can’t get to where Keisel is.
“It’s awesome,” said Hanrahan. “I wish I was fortunate enough to grow one like that. I can only grow it on my chin. He has a big following with that beard. I just started mine two years ago and it’s kind of gross, kind of disgusting, but that is how people recognize me.”
Keisel began growing his beard as a good luck playoff beard, and because of its success has had it return every year. Hanrahan decided last season not to shave his until he blew a save for the Pirates, and when the closer rolled off 26 straight en route to an All-Star selection it stayed.
“I figured I would leave it and let it go and started again this year,” said Hanrahan, sporting one of Keisel’s Da Beard hats. “I had such a good reaction to it from the fans so I grew it out again and I have had another nice season so the beard is a part of that.”
He is hoping his beard brings the Pirates the same kind of luck Keisel’s has brought the Steelers, as the Pirates are currently in the wild card playoff hunt.
“This is the first year in a long time we have been in a position to get in the playoffs,” said Hanrahan. “If it becomes something like that and they want to run with it, I will keep that going.”
Keisel and shortstop Clint Barmes flash the “Zoltan” sign.
Tags: Beard, Brett Keisel, Joel Hanrahan, Pirates, Steelers
Posted in News, Team | 1 Comment » | Print this Post
As soon as the horn signaled the end of Steelers’ practice on Wednesday, Brandon Brawdy’s smile was a mile wide, but nonetheless the 15-year old looked slightly overwhelmed when he saw the entire team heading his way.
It was a moment he had been waiting for since his family contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer almost a year ago, sharing with them his love for the Steelers and wanting to find a way for him to meet some of his favorite players, in particular defensive end Brett Keisel.
“It’s an amazing honor,” said Keisel. “First off that they can have one wish in the world and it’s to hang out with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the day. That’s a remarkable honor for this organization. For him to want to meet me is incredibly humbling. It means a lot to me.”
Keisel, Coach Mike Tomlin, and all of the players spent time signing autographs, posing for pictures and visiting with Brawdey, who came with his family from Piedmont, South Carolina, for practice and the team’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
“This has been almost a year we had this in the works,” said his mother Terry Brawdey. “The smile…he loves the players, he loves the Steelers. For the whole family to be able to do this trip has been great. We never know…we take one day at a time. You never know. We just have to enjoy every moment we can.”
Tags: Brett Keisel
Posted in Community, Team | 7 Comments » | Print this Post
Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Keisel talk to some of the NBC crew, in town for Sunday night’s game against the Colts, at practice on Thursday.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Keisel
Posted in Training Camp | 1 Comment » | Print this Post
Defensive end Brett Keisel missed the Eagles game because of the birth of his third child, son William Atticus, but will be back in action on Sunday night against the Colts.
“I am excited to get a game in,” said Keisel. “We get to play in front of our fans. It’s going to be exciting.”
The defense will face quarterback Andrew Luck, the number one overall pick in the draft, as well the Colts offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians.
“I hope we can get after him,” said Keisel of Luck. “I am sure Bruce has a good idea of what we run here. He is a great quarterback, a lot of potential. Hopefully we can rattle him a little bit.”
Luck came out firing in the Colts preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams, throwing a 63-yard touchdown pass to Donald Brown on his first pass of the game.
“It was impressive,” said Keisel of the rookies overall performance. “A lot of it was short, quick things. But to score on your first pass has to be a good thing. He is a great quarterback. That is why he was a first pick.”
* * *
Keisel is hoping the birth of his son is a good omen for the team.
When his oldest son Jacob was born the team won Super Bowl XLIII. The year his daughter Grace was born the Steelers lost in Super Bowl XLV.
“Every time we have had a kid we went to the Super Bowl so I want that trend to continue,” said Keisel, who said William and his wife Sarah are doing well. “I had my son we won Super Bowl XLIII. I had a daughter we lost Super Bowl XLV. So I had another son because I wanted us to win.”
Tags: Brett Keisel
Posted in Training Camp | 6 Comments » | Print this Post
Bringing you the latest pictures from camp.
Tags: Antonio Brown, Brett Keisel, Chris Hoke, Curtis Brown, David DeCastro
Posted in Training Camp | Comments Off | Print this Post
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
Posted in Training Camp | 5 Comments » | Print this Post
Defensive end Brett Keisel is looking forward to the first training camp practice, when the speed picks up and the team gets their first real look at what young players are capable of.
“I am very excited,” said Keisel. “We have a young group of guys coming in here. This is where you define your team and figure out who is going to help you win games throughout the season. You don’t know what guys are capable of until they put on the pads and go full speed. It will be interesting to see who steps up and makes plays.”
Keisel, who is in his 11th training camp, has advice for the young players.
“You can’t slow down,” said Keisel. “Yu have to work your tail off every day. Nothing is going to be given to you. You only get so many reps and it’s what you do with those reps that decide if you are going to make this team or not.”
Camp practices will give Keisel and the defensive line a true feeling of what rookie offensive linemen David DeCastro and Mike Adams are capable of.
“We have seen what they do with a college uniform on,” said Keisel, “Let’s see what they do with a Steelers uniform on.”
Tags: Brett Keisel, David DeCastro, Mike Adams
Posted in Training Camp | Comments Off | Print this Post
Players have been arriving at camp in over-sized SUVs, luxury sports cars and the like, but defensive end Brett Keisel made the entrance of the day in a huge orange Kubota Tractor.
Keisel pulled up behind the dorm then dumped his luggage from out of the front loader.
Keisel did not drive the tractor the entire way from home, but just the last 20 miles of the trip – which took about an hour.
“I got some looks,” said Keisel. “People were like what is this guy doing. It was a lot of fun. I love driving these things because it reminds me of my childhood.”
Keisel joked that next year he might have to arrive on some type of live stock, maybe even a horse.
“I think that was the rumor; that I was going to come in on a horse,” said Keisiel. “I was like, that is a good idea, I wish I would have thought of that.”
Tags: Brett Keisel
Posted in Training Camp | 4 Comments » | Print this Post