At the time Larry Foote really didn’t know that his life could be heading down a dangerous path. He was attending Pershing High School in Detroit, Michigan, but school was not a priority. Hanging out on the streets, being with his friends, that was what life was all about.
That was until he met the man that changed things for him, that changed the direction his life was heading. That is when he met the man that would be his mentor, Pastor Joel Gregory, a youth pastor in Southfield, Michigan.
“I met him when I was in high school in the midst of when I was my craziest,” said Foote. “My future wasn’t looking bright. I don’t think college was an option. I was playing sports, but I was in the streets too and following a group of guys I shouldn’t have been and wasn’t taking life seriously.”
Foote had met others before who tried to steer him away from the streets and put his faith in God in an effort to turn things around. But Gregory was different, and Foote immediately connected with him.
“Not only did he preach the word of God that got my attention, but during that time I wasn’t attracted to the church life and doing things the right way, I was doing what the streets were doing,” said Foote. “He was the first guy that was cool that made it attractive. I had never seen anyone that looked like me, talked like me, and had my kind of swag that loved God too. I thought this guy is cool like the neighborhood guys, he is just preaching a different message.”
Foote would attend youth bible study and soon the results started to show. He wasn’t spending time on the streets, he was focusing on school and even teachers noticed a difference in him.
“He saved my life,” said Foote. “It was at a crucial time. I had to get out of the neighborhood. I was gifted, could play ball, but I wasn’t taking life seriously. I was still caught up in the street life. When God got my attention at that age I put my priorities in line just in the nick of time. I started taking school and sports seriously and colleges started calling. My life took off at that point. I started leaving my foolish things alone and my life took off because of the example Pastor Gregory showed me.”
Foote is one of several Steelers who recently shared their story of who his mentor is with the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (MPSWPA) in celebration of January being National Mentoring Month. And in his case, his relationship with Gregory is one that was definitely life changing.
“Who knows, with what I was doing I could have been shot at any time,” said Foote. “Even when I go back to the neighborhood today I see guys on the street, on the corner begging for change, hear about guys who were murdered. There are guys I went to school with dead or in jail. It’s the reality. When you are in high school you hear people say that guy is going to end up in jail or dead, but you haven’t lived through it. It’s just rhetoric. But as every year goes by I hear about that happening to someone.
“Pastor Gregory got me in line. I took things seriously with God, and he took care of my stuff and my heart. Pastor Gregory showed me how to act, how to pray. That is why I am where I am today, he showed me that example.”
Tags: Larry Foote
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The Steelers are one of only three NFL teams, San Francisco and Washington being the others, that haven’t played a divisional game yet this season, but that all changes this weekend with a key AFC North matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Since I have been here they have been our rivals, the Bengals, Browns and Ravens,” said linebacker Larry Foote. “We need to gain some ground. We need a win and they need a win also. It’s going to be a hard-hitting game.”
The Bengals are 3-3 overall and in second place with a 1-2 division record, but are coming off a loss to the Cleveland Browns. This week pits two teams that like Foote said need a win bad.
“It’s a division game. It’s always going to be tough no matter what the records are,” said tight end Heath Miller. “We are both teams in need of a win this weekend. We have to understand the hunger they are going to play with and we have to bring the same intensity because we need to take a step in the right direction.”
The Steelers have won nine of the last 10 games in Cincinnati, but know that they are going to have a tough battle at Paul Brown Stadium.
“It’s a tough environment,” said Miller. “We know our work is cut out for us every time we go to Cincinnati. We know we are going to have to bring energy, start the game fast because their crowd is going to be into it. It’s a big game for both of us.”
The intensity will definitely be at a fever pitch, especially with it being a nationally televised Sunday night contest, but that is what the players thrive on.
“I am excited about it,” said receiver Mike Wallace. “It’s a division game. You know they are going to come out and give us a great shot and want to play hard at the beginning. We have to come out with the same intensity as those guys.
“It’s one of the toughest divisions in football. It’s going to be physical and fun. It’s a Sunday night game. You can’t ask for anything more.”
Tags: Heath Miller, Larry Foote, Mike Wallace
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“It’s far from over,” said receiver Mike Wallace. “This is one of the craziest seasons you have seen with teams having a couple of losses already. A lot of teams wouldn’t normally have three losses already. It’s a blessing in disguise. We have to pick it up and make some plays. I think we are in good shape and will be fine.”
The Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens are both 5-1, while seven teams sit at 3-3. The Steelers and Indianapolis Colts are 2-3, while the Tennessee Titans are 2-4.
“It’s still early,” said guard Ramon Foster. “That is why smart teams start to realize you can take this a long way starting right now. It’s very essential teams start to be on the upper slope right now. There’s no doubt teams have to start realizing this is the point you are getting better or you will be out of the playoffs early this year.”
And Steelers’ players are the first to acknowledge there is no time like the present to be a team headed on that upward slope.
“Our destiny is still in our hands,” said linebacker Larry Foote. “We have 11 games left. We have to get going. Just that mindset is not going to get the job done itself. We have to go out there and execute and play our best game.
“There is so much football left. All we have to do is start stacking wins and see where we fall in December.”
In order to stack those wins the team must start putting teams away early, and not letting them get back in the game late. In the three losses the Steelers have squandered fourth quarter leads, including a 10-point fourth quarter lead in Oakland.
“We are just not finishing drives at critical times,” said Wallace. “We get the crowd to quiet down and then we let them back in games. We just have to put our foot on their throats. When we get them down we have to continue to score, continue to drive the ball and get some stops on defense.”
Another thing this team has to do to get back on track is pull out a win on the road. The three losses this year have all been on the road, in Denver, Oakland and Tennessee. Nobody believes there is a common thread that is making playing on the road more of a challenge this year, it’s just about execution.
“It’s nothing outside of we didn’t play well, we didn’t make plays in critical parts of the game,” said tight end Heath Miller. “We need to play better throughout the entirety of the game to not put ourselves in that position.
“We have to start the games fast and play with the same emotion throughout the game, not play with any lulls or lapses where they make a play and are right back in the game. We have to keep the pedal to the metal the whole game.”
Tags: Heath Miller, Larry Foote, Mike Wallace, Ramon Foster
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When most of the Steelers’ players looked at the timing of their bye week, coming after just three games, they had some reservations about it being a good time or not. But now that it is here, the timing is just about right.
“At first when I looked at the schedule I thought it was early,” said running back Isaac Redman. “But we are pretty banged up. It will be good to have this week off and get everyone back for the Eagles game.”
It’s a perfect time for players to heal physically, but to also think about things and what they can do to get back in the win column.
“I think we need the time to evaluate ourselves mentally,” said linebacker Larry Foote. “We need to get away and individually we need some soul searching, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Guys need to pick it up, look at themselves in the mirror and see what we can do.”
Foote expects everyone to come back after the bye recharged and ready to turn things around starting Oct. 7 against the Eagles.
“We have had bad games, but not this early in the season, especially the last game when the offense was on fire and we couldn’t get off the field,” said Foote. “I trust these guys will get it right. I know the character of the guys and the coaches that we will get it corrected.”
He isn’t the only one who feels that way. Receiver Antonio Brown knows it’s frustrating going into the bye weekend with a losing record, but knows the team has the heart and talent to change that.
“We will pick it up,” said Brown. “We are going to get better. We will get guys back after the bye week.
“We are 1-2 and that is not where we wanted to start, but we still have a positive outlook and I think we will be fine.”
Tags: Antonio Brown, Isaac Redman, Larry Foote
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With a few days off this weekend some players will be heading to see their college teams play, others getting some much needed rest and some just going away to visit family for a few days.
And for a few others, it will be all about family this weekend.
“I am just going to be a dad and a husband,” said safety Ryan Clark. “That is the only plan. I am going to go to cheer competitions, soccer game, and a football game. Other than that I don’t have anything planned.
“Your priorities change as you get older. I just want to relax, do some treatments, training and hang out with the babies when they got off of school.”
Ike Taylor is looking forward to seeing his son Ivan play t-ball this weekend.
“I am going to spend time with my son and the family,” said Taylor. “He is playing t-ball so I can see him play. I am very excited. I hear how good he is, he has good hand eye coordination and confidence. I can’t wait to see him.”
For Larry Foote, it’s going to be whatever his wife tells him that he does.
“It’s all family,” said Foote. “My wife makes those decisions. She started setting it up early this week. I will watch a little bit of football, sleep and watch football, but it’s about my wife and kids.”
Tags: Ike Taylor, Larry Foote, Ryan Clark
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It was smooth sailing for linebacker Larry Foote calling the defensive signals through the preseason, but it’s a different ball game this week as the regular season opens on Sunday night against the Denver Broncos.
“It went well. Everything was smooth,” said Foote. “You can’t say too much because there wasn’t that much pressure.
“The regular season is when the pressure begins, late in the fourth quarter, guys are yelling, tired and you have to execute and make sure everybody gets the call.”
And when you are trying to stop Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, it doesn’t make things any easier.
“You better be ready,” said Foote. “The coaches do a great job of trying to get as close as possible, but you can’t really simulate it, you have to be in the moment. I have proven through the years I can handle it and hopefully I can do a good job.
“It’s not just on me. I need other guys to reiterate the call and make sure everybody gets it. Everyone on the defense can do it if called upon. It’s just what we do.”
Tags: Larry Foote
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If you know linebacker Larry Foote you know it’s not often you hear anyone say they can’t hear him. Usually you hear him minutes before he arrives.
However fellow linebacker James Harrison was giving Foote, who took over as the defensive signal caller with James Farrior gone, some grief for being hard to hear when he is calling the plays.
“I can’t hear Larry Foote,” said Harrison. “He has to speak up because I can’t hear him. But there is not a difference (between him and Farrior). They are both knowledgeable of the defense, play it well. I don’t see much more of a difference.”
Foote laughed when he heard what Harrison said, and jokingly said that it’s Harrison who isn’t listening.
“He is the only one that says it because you know how you can be sitting next to someone and they aren’t listening, well he is one of those guys,” said Foote. “He can hear me, but isn’t listening. You have to say it to him and make sure he gets it because in the game his mind is in other places. That is a part of calling defenses. That is your job.”
And it’s a job he welcomes with open arms, even if it can get harried at times.
“It’s fun. It comes with the territory,” said Foote. “I don’t mind it. It’s just natural
“There is pressure when you can’t get the call and you have 10 guys screaming at you and they don’t understand that it’s the sideline and it’s not me. We are going to complain and gripe about that forever. I saw them yell at Farrior about it and I am sure they are going to yell at me too.”
Tags: James Harrison, Larry Foote
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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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Larry Foote remembers being a young linebacker, looking up to veterans on the team for leadership.
Now Foote, entering his 11th season, is that player that younger linebackers are looking up to.
“It feels good,” said Foote. “I call myself a leader. I’m just going to try to do what the older guys taught me and pass it on.
“We need to keep doing what we do. Be examples. Come out and play and can’t make a lot of mental errors, have a lot of energy and make plays, basically. And just be an example.”
Foote is enjoying training camp so far, especially some of the position battles that are unfolding as things progress.
“There’s going to be a lot more battles,” said Foote. “A lot of guys are going to be battling for a spot. That’s a good thing. We can make each other better. So there aren’t going to be too many shoe-ins this year because a lot of guys left. It’s going to be exciting.”
Tags: Larry Foote
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Wednesday, January 4
Cold. That is the only way to describe how Wednesday started off. Very, very cold with the temperature only 14 degrees as players made their way in to the team’s practice facility.
The talk at breakfast was Michigan’s win in the Sugar Bowl the night before, with Larry Foote proud of his school.
It was a good day for safety Troy Polamalu who was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Browns, an honor that was announced at the start of the team meeting.
Polamalu came up big with an interception of Seneca Wallace and had a tackle of Wallace or a loss.
The Steelers also made a roster move in the morning, activating running back Chad Spann from the practice squad for depth at the position. In a corresponding move linebacker Chris Carter was placed on injured reserve. Carter has been battling a hamstring injury. Running back Albert Young was also added to the practice squad.
A big topic of conversation in the locker room at lunch time was Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, with the horde of media on hand asking every player – both offense and defense – about Tebow, from his style of play to his faith – something that wide receiver Antonio Brown respects him for being vocal about.
“That is what it’s all about,” said Brown. “A guy like him displaying that is something special about his will and showing his true character. We are all different. But at the end of the day we both possess a strong will and great faith. Guys like that you respect, strong will and great faith.”
Brown, a devout Christian, lives by the motto “Chest up, Eyes up, Prayed up,” in his daily life.
“That’s my motivation,” said Brown. “I’ve been using that since I was a kid. I pride myself on believing that if I keep my chest up and my eyes up, and I remain prayed up, I have what it takes to move forward and get the good out of any situation that may hinder me.”
Another player who was hit up with a lot of questions about Tebow was Maurkice Pouncey, who played with him at the University of Florida. Pouncey has plenty of respect for Tebow, but his focus is on the Broncos defense.
“They have a great defense,” said Pouncey. “We have to get ready to play against these guys.”
There were large crowds around many players’ lockers, with local media joined by national media including ESPN, NFL Network and the New York Times. Among those drawing crowds were Ben Roethlisberger, Isaac Redman, Brett Keisel and Mike Wallace, who is ready to get going on Sunday.
“I have been caged in for about six or seven weeks,” said Wallace. “I’ve got to get loose. I’ve got to come out here and set the tone for my team and do my part to help the team get back to the championship.”
Running back John Clay is getting his share of attention this week as well as he will be the one to give Redman a spell.
“I am looking forward to showcasing my talents and helping the team out any way I can,” said Clay. “I just want to do my best.”
Clay has come a long way in the last month, going from practice squad to playing in his first post-season game.
“Everything is happening so fast,” said Clay. “Four weeks ago I was on the practice squad and not worrying about suiting up for Sunday and all of this happened and I am preparing myself for Sunday. I have been preparing from the beginning as if I was playing. Coach (Tomlin) always told me get ready like you are playing every Sunday. I already had that mindset.”
The cold temperatures forced the Steelers to go inside for practice, where the atmosphere was light beforehand but then got down to serious business.
On hand watching practice was Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and PNC Bank President Sy Holzer, who visited with Coach Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert.
The Steelers injury report from Wednesday had five players that did not participate at all including CB Cortez Allen (shoulder), LB James Harrison (toe), DE Brett Keisel (groin), RB Mewelde Moore (knee), and S Troy Polamalu (calf).
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) and center center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) were both limited in practice.
A good sight was linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) has a full participant in practice along with guard Doug Legursky (shoulder).
Brett Keisel was busy during the media session
Roethlisberger surrounded by media
Chris Hoke chats with Steve McLendon in the weight room
Chad Spann, John Clay and Mike Tomlin at practice
Chilling out before practice starts
Photographer Karl Roser taking headshots of those new to the roster
Who is that wearing No. 86 – not Hines Ward. See if you can take a guess.
The Steelers.com Live @ 4 Team on air on Wednesday. Check it out daily for the latest news.
Tags: Antonio Brown, Chad Spann, Chris Carter, Clint Hurdle, John Clay, Larry Foote, Maukice Pouncey, Tim Tebow, Troy Polamalu
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Linebacker Larry Foote (hamstring) and guard Ramon Foster (ankle) both fully participated in practice on Tuesday. Foote missed the Bengals game with the hamstring injury and Foster left the game early with the ankle injury.
Tags: Larry Foote, Ramon Foster
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