Coach Mike Tomlin was watching from the sideline as Trey Griffey made a nice catch during one of the team’s OTA practices this week.
Tomlin quickly gave Griffey praise, and even offered a little tip. And then he repeated the words of praise.
For Griffey, they were words he took to heart.
“It’s the head coach. You listen to him,” said Griffey. “You of course want to make the correction. It’s always good when the coach tells you something. It shows that coach cares. Not a lot of head coaches talk to you or tell you what you should be doing. He tells us what you should be doing and that makes you better.”
Griffey, who played at the University of Arizona, signed with the Steelers this offseason. He spent time with the Colts and Dolphins last year, but didn’t land with a team during the regular season. His focus now is to change that for 2018. And he isn’t afraid to put in the work. Every day he is among a group that gets extra reps on the JUGS machine, constantly focused on getting better.
“You have to when you are a receiver,” said Griffey. “You can never catch too many balls. I am out here trying to get better and catch as many balls as I can. There is still a lot to learn. We haven’t even gotten to training camp yet. We are taking it day-by-day.
“I have to do everything. You never want to focus on one thing. You always want to do everything that you have to. At the end of the day, I do my best."
That do your best work ethic is something he inherited from his father, Hall of Fame baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. The younger Griffey grew up going to the ballpark with his dad, seeing professional athletes work and eventually understanding why they put that work in.
“It was a dream,” said Griffey. “You go and see athletes, the way that they perform, the way they get together, just the way they take care of their body every day. There are a lot of things you don’t see as far as what an athlete does to get ready for a game, get ready for practice. I took it for granted when I was younger. Now that I see it, I see this is why they did this or did that.”
His father would give him advice, but not from the standpoint of being Ken Griffey Jr. the baseball player. No, the advice he got was from dad.
“I always looked at my dad as my dad,” said Griffey. “People told me at a young age your dad is Ken Griffey Jr. My dad never taught me that. From a young age he was always around, taking me to football. He would have a game maybe in Miami or Tampa. He would drive up, take me to practice, and then go to his game. He was always the father.
“I wanted to wear my dad’s jersey. I wanted to go out and catch footballs, I wanted to go out to the outfield and catch fly balls, hit in the cage. It’s something at a young age you don’t see what you are doing, but as you get older you think, dang, this is what I used to do.”
What it also helped him understand, is you have to do what you love. Many would expect with Griffey’s bloodlines, which also includes his grandfather Ken Griffey Sr., that baseball would be the path that he would choose. But he had another love, and his dad encouraged him to follow his heart.
“You are going with your dad every day to the ball park, seeing baseball every day,” said Griffey. “It was something you wanted to do. My dad was my role model growing up. You wanted to be like him. But he told me I see you have a love for football, continue to go with football.
“I had a love for football. My dad had a love for baseball. My dad always told me if you have a love for a sport nobody could tell you what to do. He told me from day one, if you love football, go with football. That is what I did.”
Griffey still calls his dad to ask him for advice in different situations, getting an athlete’s point of view on different issues he comes across.
But he knows the ultimate person he has to listen to now is Tomlin and plans on following any and all advice be provides, even if it’s just a few words from the sideline.