My Super Bowl Journey: Byron Leftwich
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.
Quarterback Byron Leftwich signed with the Steelers during training camp after Charlie Batch suffered a shoulder injury that would sideline him for the season.
Leftwich, a former number one draft pick and starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars, lost a battle to start there against David Garrard and signed with the Atlanta Falcons. He was released by the Falcons after the 2007 season and went unsigned during the offseason.
Leftwich was brought to camp where he competed against Daunte Culpepper for the spot and showed the Steelers that he would be the man for the job.
Leftwich battled injuries during his career, including knee and ankle problems, but since he has been in Pittsburgh has been more than a solid back-up to Ben Roethlisberger, but rather a starting quarterback waiting in the wings to be called upon and responding big when he was.
Below Leftwich shares in his own words what brought him to Pittsburgh and what the journey to Super Bowl XLIII has been like for him.
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When I first came here I had to compete for Charlie's spot, but that was cool. I never had a problem with that. Coming in I knew I wasn't competing with Ben. I knew I just had to come in and prove I was healthy. I needed to prove I could help this football team if called upon and I think I did that.
When I signed with the team I knew what they were capable of doing. To say I knew this was the team or this was the year, no. This was a crazy year for me with the injuries and all.
I was more frustrated, but I was never down on myself. I never lost confidence in myself. I knew once I got healthy and back on the football field I could prove to people I could play. I just wanted to get on the right team. Coming here and working for Coach Mike Tomlin is the best decision I made.
Things happen for a reason. But the man upstairs is blessing us right now. We have to take it all in and understand this is a precious moment, let's try to take advantage of it and try to find a way to win this game.
As a child I dreamed of this. That was some 20 years ago I dreamt about this and now I am finally going to get the opportunity.
I have watched so many Super Bowls. The toughest Super Bowl I have ever watched was Super Bowl XL, when the Steelers beat Seattle. We (Jacksonville) played both teams during the season and beat both teams. To see them both play in the Super Bowl that was the toughest Super Bowl for me to watch.
You know it's a dream you always had and you want to have your opportunity to get there and we now have that opportunity.
The AFC Championship game was amazing. I had to start warming up on the sidelines because Ben was shaken up. I knew he was down in the tunnel, but I didn't know what was going on. I was throwing the football on the sideline and I felt real good. I joked with Ben after the game. I told him I didn't think I would have missed a pass and that showed how good I felt and that's how excited I was to get that opportunity.
My last year and a half of football hasn't been good because of the injuries. To get that opportunity I would have done anything possible to help the team. I felt real good about everything. I didn't have a problem with him staying in there. Our goal that day was to get to the Super Bowl and he came out there and did that for us.
It was so exciting. I don't even remember them putting the stage up. It was just there. It was so surreal. I was so happy. It's one of those special moments in life.
You just dream about it. There is not one specific thing. We are going to do our best to win the football game. Just the whole atmosphere you have to take it in. Every body that I have talked to has said it's a special time.
I told Ben I never thought in a million years I would have the opportunity to play for the Steelers. But I am glad I got the opportunity. This is a special place here. This is a special organization. It's different than a whole lot of places. To be a part of that I will always be able to take that with me.
Ten to 15 years from now I can say I had the opportunity to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers and this is what the NFL is all about.