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Farrior, Gilbert honored to win team awards

Posted Dec 29, 2011

Starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert was the recipient of the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, given annually to the team’s rookie of the year by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Gilbert, the Steelers second-round draft pick out of Florida, stepped in at right tackle after Willie Colon suffered a season-ending injury Week 1 of the season. He helped solidify a line that allowed the offense to gain more than 370 yards per game through 15 games.

“This is such an honor to receive this great award – for Joe Greene and for all the guys that won the top rookie award,” said Gilbert. “It’s just an honor to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just to give me the opportunity to go out there and perform for this NFL organization, it was all about anything I could do.

“When my number was called early, I just felt I had to step up to the plate and perform at a high level. Like Coach (Mike) Tomlin says, ‘The standard is the standard.’ The standard that was at right tackle with Willie Colon, I just tried to do a decent job at it. I just tried to get better and better every week. I didn’t want to let my teammates down. This is a tremendous honor, and it’s because of my hard work.”

Gilbert was drafted primarily as a left tackle, but Colon’s injured forced him to be called to duty at right tackle. Down the line he is open to moving back to left, or staying put and doing whatever the team asks of him.

“I had conversations with them, flirted around with it,” said Gilbert. “But as of right now, we are just focused on this year and focusing on our road and journey throughout the playoffs. 

“I want to do whatever the coaches want me to perform at. I think I can play any position on the line, besides center. But I just want to do everything the coaches want to put me in. I am very capable at playing either position, left tackle or right tackle, so it doesn’t really matter to me.”

The Steelers first started presenting a rookie of the year award in 1969 and it was named after Greene, the second player ever to receive it. Winning the award is special to Gilbert as his father, Jeff, admired Greene.

“That was one of my dad’s favorite football players,” said Gilbert. “I got to meet him on my first official visit pre-draft and I ate lunch with him. I was like, this is really cool. My dad looked up to him and said he remembered seeing him in commercials, I think it was the Coke commercial.

“But it was just an honor to sit down with a legend and arguably the best football player to play in this organization. It was an honor and he let me know flat out straight what the Steelers were all about. I kind of had a clue and then when I got drafted I really got to see the real deal. So it was an honor to meet him and see him around training camp too.”

* * *

James Farrior is a guy who never says no when asked to talk to the media and that is why for the second time in three years he was named the winner of The Chief Award, presented by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.

The award was established in honor of Steelers’ founder, Arthur J. Rooney, Sr. and is presented annually to the member of the Steelers’ organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media.

Farrior, who is in his 15th season, also won the award in 2009.

“I think it is a respect factor that we have for you guys and we know you guys have to do a story,” said Farrior of the willingness to talk to the media. “We know that you have to be in the locker room and it is really something that you can’t avoid. We always try to make it appeasing for everybody.”

Farrior has been fortunate that as of late the talk in the locker room has been nothing but positive, but he isn’t one to hide from the cameras when times are tough.

“That is usually when it is most difficult, when you lose a game and your emotions are running high and you don’t really know what to say to the media and everybody is in your face asking you questions,” said Farrior. “But it is part of being a professional, part of being a Steeler, and that is something we have to deal with on occasion.”

Farrior said if he had a vote for the award he would select Hines Ward or Ben Roethlisberger for their cooperation and he likes that the younger players are following the lead of the veterans on the team.

“We just have to do a good job of leading by example and showing them the right things to do and sometimes just listening to what they say and how to portray the story that they want to get out, and try to give them as many helpful hints as we can,” said Farrior. “Just by us doing it all the time and by them seeing us do it, it makes them want to do it too.”

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