By Teresa Varley
During the next few weeks linebacker Patrick Bailey will be coming to the team's practice facility every morning, taking part in the voluntary offseason program.
But when his teammates head home for some R&R at lunch time, Bailey's day will still going strong. After he hangs up the shorts and t-shirt he wore all morning he will quickly change into business attire and head off to his internship at Orbital Engineering, a company located in downtown Pittsburgh.
Bailey, who graduated from Duke with a degree in engineering, landed the internship after meeting the company's CEO Bob Lewis during the season. Lewis brought the young linebacker in for an interview and wasted no time offering him an internship for when the season ended.
"Right now I am helping out with sales," said Bailey of his duties. "I am going out, meeting clients and customers and if they have questions teach them about what we do.
"But I have an electrical and computer engineering (ECE) background and they have an electrical department. They want me to learn more about what they do for ECE consulting and design and programming. Those were things I did in college."
Bailey started the internship at the beginning of March after taking only a month off following the Steelers win in Super Bowl XLIII. He didn't mind though, because it's the perfect opportunity for him to put his degree to work while still making football his number one focus.
"I spent four years slaving to play football and get a degree I wanted," said Bailey. "To be able to use it and have this opportunity is a great thing for me to do. It's very valuable. It's a wonderful experience. It lets me use that side of my mind and I enjoy it. I got the shortest month off. But the only good thing is I wasn't beating my body, I was only beating my brain."
After morning workouts at the team's facility, Bailey changes into a suit and tie before heading off to work. His teammates have given him some good natured teasing, including about his tie choice the first day. It's all worth it though.
"I am seeing something different," said Bailey. "I get to learn how my field is being applied, the aspects of the business realm in terms of getting to know people, learning about the company and using your brain to be able to go to clients and say we have these capabilities and this is how we can help you out. I really enjoy that."
Bailey signed with the Steelers as a rookie free agent following the draft, but was waived prior to the start of the season and signed to the practice squad. He was placed on the active roster the third game of the season and played against the Eagles and Ravens. He was released the following week because injuries created a need at other positions, but was re-signed to the practice squad for two weeks and then activated before the Giants game. He has remained on the active roster for the rest of the season.
"It is easy after being cut to throw in the towel and say it didn't work out the way I wanted it to," said Bailey. "I was put down a couple of times on the practice squad. But in those times that's when I said I want to make it even more now. You pin your ears back, try to move forward and get to the spot where you want to go. Those ups and downs…it's a business but sometimes you have to work to achieve your goals."
On a team where five of the team's draft picks made the opening day roster, Bailey made an impact and was named the 2008 recipient of the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, presented to the team's rookie of the year, by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.
"I consider this past year a blessing," said Bailey. "My senior year I blew out my ACL. People said I was almost done. That hurt my chances of making it. All I wanted was a chance. Pittsburgh provided me with that chance. Through relying on God as my strength, because after that injury I realized how weak I was, I made it. This past year coming in as a free agent, like a walk-on, I played my heart out, got a spot after a couple of weeks on the practice squad, and then being a rookie and winning the Super Bowl. That was an amazing year."
His snaps on defense were limited, but he was a pleasant surprise on special teams, recording 12 tackles and loving every minute of it.
"I do enjoy it," said Bailey of his role on the special teams units. "It's one of the things that is pure effort. I enjoy it because of that. Like everyone else you have to be willing to put your hand in the pile. I wasn't afraid to do that. I knew what my role was on special teams. I wanted to get the tackle, so did the other 10 guys on the field. That's what it is. It's being a part of the team willing to put your hand in the pile and sacrifice something to get to where you want to be."