McLendon: 'It puts a chip on your shoulder'


Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Steelers players and coaches will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. And in some cases players will share what it was like when neither of those things happened. In this installment, Steve McLendon shares his story.

Steve McLendon – Undrafted Free Agent – 2009 – Troy"It was tough not being asked to go to the combine. I understand the process. All I could ask for from the NFL was to give me one chance, and all I needed was for one team to like me. Unfortunately for me I didn't go so I didn't get all of the teams to like me. When they came to our pro day I was able to put on a decent show for them and I got attention from a few teams and that was a blessing for me.

"My pro day was exciting. A lot of guys go into it nervous. I was more excited. I knew I did everything in my power to get ready. I didn't run the fastest 40, but in everything else I think I did really well. Our pro day was packed because we had DeMarcus Ware, so a lot of teams came out and watched us. It was a pretty good crowd.

"Nobody talked to me from the Steelers. There was one Steelers scout there. I remember seeing him there writing on his notepad. He watched me doing the drills. Philadelphia definitely showed interest. I felt like Jacksonville did too.

"I made no visits, no trips, and no individual workouts before the draft. I didn't have the type of college team a lot of guys had.  

"Going into the draft there were no expectations. Everyone told me I was going to be a free agent. A lot of people told me I wasn't going to make it; I wasn't going to get a chance because I was undersized. I had the height but not size and weight. But I am here today and thankful for that.

"I watched the draft, but I look at it like this… in time everything will happen. I feel like my road to success had to go this way. Who is to say if I went in the first or second round I would be the man I am today. It hardened me, made me a better man, and made me the man I am today. Coming into the NFL, I knew it was nothing like college. It made me be more humble, more responsible, and more accountable. It made me do things different than college. It made me become a man.

"I didn't get any calls during the draft. I make a joke about when my phone rang. I say I was the first pick of the ninth round. After the draft when they sign free agents, that is the eighth round. The next day I called the ninth round. Early the next morning I got my first call from Philadelphia and I said I was the first pick of the ninth round. As I was headed to Birmingham I got a call from the Steelers. I turned Philadelphia down because the Steelers were my favorite team at that time.

Photos of Steelers' nose tackle Steve McLendon.

"My agent told me the Steelers liked me a lot and Philadelphia liked me a lot. The Eagles had more depth at the time. The thing about the Steelers is they were coming off the Super Bowl and my agent told me it's going to be hard to make the roster on both teams, but you have to go with the team you like the most.

"At that time I had watched the Steelers win the Super Bowl not long before. I never had a brother growing up, so at the time those were my brothers. I watched the way they played and they were like brothers and I wanted to be a part of it.

"It was exciting for me. I was excited to be here. The biggest thing for me was I got an opportunity, a chance to show what I had.

"It puts a chip on your shoulder when you didn't get drafted or go to the combine. I am just thankful. That is why I work so hard now. I work hard to be able to do the things on the field for our team each and every week."

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