When Steven Nelson first signed with the Steelers, he immediately connected with Steelers fans, even asking for places to eat in Pittsburgh.
And of course, one of the top answers was a Pittsburgh tradition – Primanti Bros.
Nelson took the fans advice and became an instant ‘Yinzer.’
“I feel like the fan base here is absolutely crazy,” said Nelson of why he wanted to connect with them right away. “It’s a good atmosphere here. It’s different."
“I have been around a little bit. I know it’s important for fans. They live and die for football. They love the Steelers, the players, it was me giving back to the fans to reach out and connect as much as possible. It was good to know I have a fan base that is behind me and has my back. “
Nelson, the Steelers starting right cornerback, has quickly settled into Pittsburgh, not just with the fans and the city, but with the team. His numbers might not jump out on paper, 17 tackles and a pass defense, but paper stats don't tell what a cornerback does.
“He is doing great,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “I like his attention to detail. I like his professionalism. From time to time we put him in awkward circumstances because of the nature of how we play. I just like everything he is doing thus far. I look forward to it continuing to be a positive aspect of our play.”
Nelson, who is entering his fifth season, has his feet firmly planted as to what it takes to be a pro, but he still uses 10-year veteran Joe Haden as a sounding board for ways to improve and learn.
“It’s beneficial to learn from a guy like that every day,” said Nelson. “I sit behind him in the meeting room. I am always trying to pick his brain. We critique each other every day. We talk about little things, technique, different perspectives.”
The perspective Nelson brings is one that has him always reaching to accomplish more, always giving 100 percent and more.
“Playing cornerback, always having that edge, that chip on your shoulder wanting to make plays,” said Nelson. “You always want to make some athletic plays, sometimes going against high powered offenses. I work my tail off to do it. I have always been that way. I have always had a chip on my shoulder. I am not the biggest guy. I wasn’t a No. 1 draft pick. I am a gritty guy. That is just my makeup.
“I like to pride myself on how hard I prepare throughout the week. I try to get my body right. Study my opponent and execute what my coaches are teaching me."
What also is part of his makeup is something that might not be the norm for every football player. Nelson knows what football brings, the happiness, the fun, the excitement. But it can also bring more. There are plenty of good days on the football field, but there are bad ones too and Nelson has the perfect escape…meditation.
“I do a lot of meditating on my own,” said Nelson. “It centers me and relaxes me after a long day of practice. When I have stress on my mind, I practice it as much as possible. I do it as needed.”
Nelson, who has a tattoo of a Buddha on his left hand, began the practice during training camp last year when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Some days I might not have a good day of practice, might be frustrated," said Nelson. "It brings me back down and makes me feel human in that aspect. Sometimes when I wake up and I am on a good energy, I meditate and focus on having a good, happy day. It helps me get through my day.”