Kinnel doesn't have to look far for motivation

Get to know Steelers safety Tyree Kinnel

Tyree Kinnel
University of Michigan

Most entertaining person you follow on social media? That's a good one. Lately Desi Banks. His videos are very relatable to me.

Must have food? I have to go with pizza with pepperoni, bacon and sausage.

Morning person or night owl? Definitely a morning person, but I can be a night owl as well. I am both in a way.

Who is your football mentor or inspiration? I would say my inspiration and my mentor would be my dad, Chris, when it comes to football. If I had to pick a player who came before me it would be Charles Woodson. My dad because he is the one who taught me the game, brought football into my life. I am blessed for that. He helped me at a young age. He is why I am where I am today.

What motivates you? To be a great competitor, wanting to win. And my daughter, Zara, motivates me to want to play and succeed so much.

What is your football mindset/approach? To be the best person I can be and to win and have fun. Be the best, win and have fun.

When did you start to dream about playing in the NFL? When I was really a little kid, first or second grade I would tell people I was going to play in the NFL. I dreamt about it. I was young when I had those goals and dreams.

Why do you play football? That is what I learned at a very young age. That is what I was brought up on. I didn't experience much else than football growing up. That is what I knew the most growing up sports wise, to play football. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with competing. I fell in love with winning. That is why I play football.


What is your proudest football moment or memory? I would say my first interception touchdown, my first pick six my junior year at Michigan. It was a great moment for me. What I am most proud of is making it to where I am today when things were difficult for me at times and people said I wouldn't make it this far.

Did people saying that add fuel to the fire? In a way, but I am really self-motivated. But it doesn't go unheard when stuff is said to me. I just try to motivate myself and do everything I can to be good for myself.

When you hear Steelers football, what do you think? I think of grit, toughness, hard-hitting football. Also, Super Bowls. I grew up watching them win the Super Bowl.

What did you learn about yourself during quarantine? I learned to be patient. There was so much I wanted to do. There was so much you couldn't do. The biggest thing was being patient. With everything going on, things being shut down at any moment, you had to be patient.

Was it a blessing to spend time with your daughter? I was in the XFL, but when it ended I was able to come home and see her more than I would have. It was a blessing. It's always a blessing to see her, especially when I have to travel. It I have to look at it from a good side, I was able to be with my daughter.

What was it like when the XFL season suddenly ended because of the pandemic? It sucked. We knew it was coming that week. You are playing to get back in the NFL, for the love of the game. For it to shut down in the middle of the season was tough. But it didn't last long. That is when maybe a week after it got shut down Pittsburgh called and signed me. I was blessed by that.

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