My Super Bowl Journey: Anthony Madison
As the Steelers prepare to take on the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, several players shared their "Super Bowl Journey" with Teresa Varley. The journey as to how they came to Pittsburgh, how they made it on the roster varies from player to player, but the ultimate dream remains the same – winning a Super Bowl Championship.
Cornerback Anthony Madison originally signed with the Steelers as a rookie free agent in 2006, missing out on a Super Bowl by just a year. He was released before the season started and signed to the team's practice squad. In 2007, he was waived again and this time he was signed by Tampa Bay. But not long after joining them, he was waived and about a month or so later, was back with the Steelers on the active roster.
Madison is a persistent guy, though. He is someone who doesn't give up on himself, doesn't let the ups and downs that come with an NFL career get him down. He kept fighting and this season, there was nobody calling him to 'bring his playbook' and get cut. Not at all. Madison made the final roster this year and has been a special team's ace for the team.
Below Madison shares in his own words what brought him to Pittsburgh and what the journey to Super Bowl XLIII has been like for him.
I signed with the team as an undrafted free agent the year after they won the Super Bowl. First of all it was an honor to just be here at that time. To see those guys get a chance to go to Washington and the White House after just coming off a Super Bowl win. It was amazing. It was almost intimidating a little bit because you're coming in from college and you are like 'wow this is a great team. I want to be a part of it.' I told myself from day one that this is what I wanted to be a part of and I made a vow to work hard and do whatever I need to do to make that happen.
The first time I saw one of the guys Super Bowl rings it was like, 'Oh my God.' It was surreal. You just don't see that often. When it came down for me to make my decision about where I wanted to play ball at the end of the draft, I knew I wanted to be in Pittsburgh because of the organization and because they won the Super Bowl. There was a good chance that they could do it again. It is one of those things you dream about as a kid and now you have that opportunity to play in it and win it.
I didn't get a chance to try anybody's ring on, but I sure did hold it. I stared at it for a while. It's beautiful. It really is. All of us will obviously cherish this for all our lives and to just be here and have a chance to win it is just a blessing.
Although everything was exciting it was tough for me because I was cut before the 2006 season started. It was tough for me because I had gotten hurt. I pulled my hamstring at the end of training camp and I had only played in two preseason game. I don't know how much that factored in. It's one of those things that cuts deep. At the end of the day, the older you get the more you realize how things work and you understand the things that you can control. The thing that I knew was that all I could do was continue to pray and work hard and hope that everything will work out.
It weighed heavy on me. The first cut really wasn't that bad. It was bad, but it wasn't really that bad because I was signed back to the practice squad. So at least I was part of the team. The second cut was probably the hardest for me, only because I didn't see it coming and then it hit me. That's when it kind of threw me off. I was just like okay what is next?
After being cut in 2007 I got picked up by Tampa Bay and I was over there for a couple of weeks. As soon as I get there, three guys go down in one game. They had to make room for other guys and I was the unfamiliar face and so I was the guy they let go. So that was tough. I was out for about four or five weeks and I got the call back to come here. I made a vow that I would go and do whatever I can. I knew at some point the Lord would open the door for me and he did and I took advantage of it.
It is motivating. To me it's a motivator to a certain extent because it makes you appreciate the game. If you are not careful you can have a love-hate relationship with the game. The way I looked at it was, I'm going to go out and do my best and then we will see what happens after that. As long as I know that I am doing everything I can, I can live with it.
It was a blessing this year to make the roster. The moment I found out I got on my knees and thanked the Lord. I think we all have to go through certain things in our lives that make us who we are. It's not what happens to you, but how you deal with what happens to you. For me, those things that had happened to me obviously have made me appreciate who I am and I found out a lot about who I am. Through those circumstances I found out who the people were close to me. When things were bad I found out who was in my corner. When things are down and out, I found out who had my back. I found out who they were and it was an eye-opener for me. So now that I see myself as doing pretty well, I am able to weed out certain people and I am just thankful that this opportunity came along. Like I said, I made a vow to make sure I go out and do whatever I need to do to make it happen.
The AFC Championship game was surreal. That's the word I can use. It was unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable. You win this thing, you think about where this team has come from, the injuries that we've had, the scrutiny that we may have had, the people that told us we were only going to be a .500 team at best, and now here we are. We win our division. We win this AFC deal and now we are on our way to the Super Bowl. I think it's a testament of the character of the team and the guys that we have and the leadership that we have all the way from the top to the bottom.
As a kid I remember being at home in Thomasville, Alabama, small town, where the Super Bowl would be about to come on. My sister would be cooking. She'd let us know that we only had 40 minutes to play before we had to come inside and watch the game. I'm outside throwing the ball with my friends. You say okay I am this person, you know imitating players. I was a huge fan of Emmitt Smith. I loved Emmitt Smith. Now here you are about to play in Super Bowl Sunday.
The dream is, for one, to win it. That is the ultimate goal to win it. But just to be a factor, just know that you are doing something to help your team, whether it is a tackle, or a caused fumble. Whatever it is, I want to make an impact in the game in a positive way so that we can hoist the Lombardi.