Getting some good advice

From the time they were drafted, Steelers rookies have been getting advice from everyone – college teammates, coaches, agents, friends, families, neighbors and people they don't even know.

During mini-camp, though, some of the best advice came from former Steelers players, those who have been through the rigors of the NFL and understand what the rookies are facing.

The team hosted a dinner for the rookies, with the alumni on hand to talk to them, share their experiences, offer some insight and teach them about the Steelers tradition.

"It's special. It lets you know the tradition of this organization," said linebacker Jason Worilds, the team's second-round draft pick. "I really wanted to hear their experience. I always wanted to be a football player and part of this extraordinary league. To learn from legends of the game is second to none. It's part of my dream. To hear anything they say and any advice they have to offer, I am willing to listen."

The evening began with the chance to mingle, get to know each other a little bit, but as it progressed the opportunity to learn more grew by the minute.

"It's great to have these resources," said linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, who was taken in the fourth round. "We just have to utilize them. It's great to ask questions we were thinking about on the way up here. Things like what to expect during the season when things are going good and when things are going bad and how to keep moving forward. For these guys to come back and do it is an honor and blessing."

"Knowing they came and left their legacy here and to be able to ask as many questions as possible is great," said added seventh-round pick Doug Worthington. "I know they have a lot of things to share. They are there for advice. They have been there, where you want to go. You just have to be humble and ask as many questions as you can."

And what kind of advice did the alumni deliver?

"The main thing is the expectations of a Steelers player and what it means to be in the National Football League and what the standards are," said Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount. "It's a great opportunity for them to better themselves, help their families, and help their community.

"Like any young person going into an organization you want to make sure you can make a contribution. You want to learn the rules and what is expected. It think it's important in the sense we can embrace them and let them know we are here for them and what the standards are and what is expected. It will help jump start them and get them going in the right direction."

The Steelers have been hosting the rookie/alumni gathering for years and it's proven to be beneficial on both sides.

"It's a wonderful idea. I don't know how many teams do it" said Bleier. "For those of us who played here it gives us a chance to come back and talk to the young players. It's like being part of a family. If there is one thing that comes out of this about this organization it's one that has plenty of support.

"When you come here you don't know what to expect. You are coming to a city, have your whole life ahead of you. What I tell them is you have an opportunity. No one is guaranteed a job. It's up to you to take advantage of all that is offered to you and give it 100 percent. No matter what the outcome you will be a better person for having gone through the process."

Coach Mike Tomlin, who addressed the group during the dinner, understands the significance of bringing the two sides together.

"I think the best way to relay history is oral history," said Tomlin. "We appreciate our alumni players coming in to impart wisdom on our players about their experience not only as players for the Pittsburgh Steelers and what that means, which is significant, but also the transition they are going through from being amateurs to professionals, from being young men to men. It's a special time in their life. These alumni players are sensitive to that, they experienced it firsthand. It's great to get that kind of wisdom from people who walked down the road they are beginning walk down."

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