On the Sidelines with Chris Hoke
Steelers.com will bring you a feature throughout the season titled On the Sidelines where Teresa Varley will sit down with players and help you get to know them away from the game.
Nose tackle Chris Hoke has come a long way from the time he joined the Steelers as a rookie free agent to today when he is key part of the team's defense.
"I tell people all of the time how much I appreciate the success I am having now," said Hoke. "My first three years I didn't really play. To know what it felt like every week to be scrapping to make this team, to be worrying on Tuesdays if you were going to get cut because somebody got injured. I would look around after games to see who got hurt. My first three years I didn't know if I would be cut because I was one of the last guys on the 53-man roster.
"Now to look back and be able to feel the excitement of winning a Super Bowl, starting on a number one defense, I feel like I enjoy it more and it's more satisfying to me because of what I went through in the beginning."
Hoke is always willing to share his story and his enthusiasm for football and there isn't anyone he likes to do that with more than the kids who attend the annual Chris Hoke Football Camp.
"I had a lot of fun doing the camp," said Hoke. "I was interacting with the kids the whole time. I was jumping around, running the drills and having fun. That is something I like to do, give back to the kids. They are the future of college football and the NFL. I wanted to give back to them and show support for them."
Hoke talks about his start in sports and football and different topics in this installment of On the Sidelines.
When did you start playing organized sports?
I started playing soccer when I was five years old. That was a big sport in my family, soccer and baseball. That's what I did when I was young. I didn't start playing football until I was a freshman in high school.
Starting that late did you ever imagine you would be where you are today?
The NFL was out there, but playing college football was always my dream. I was a big BYU fan, where I played, and grew up loving them. I wanted to be like some of those players. My seventh and eighth grade years I wanted to play football but we had family vacations the same time in August. They didn't want us to go on vacation. I didn't play until my freshman year.
When did playing in the NFL become a reality for you?
I started to think about it my junior and senior year in college, but I came in as a free agent so it became a reality once I got out here and got reps in practice. Even though you are a free agent, you think it's far fetched. There are all of these draft picks here and it's going to be tough to make it. But that is when it became a reality.
What kind of advice would you give to a kid who wants to play in the NFL?
I would tell them to work hard. Work ethic is so huge. If you work hard good things happen to you. A lot of times you might go out on the field and might not do everything perfect, but if you work hard they see potential and qualities they like. They can always make you a football player out of that.
Are your kids getting into sports yet?
My boys (Cade, 7 and Nathan, 5) both played t-ball and baseball in the spring and my older son is playing fall baseball now. They play soccer and all of that like I did when I was a kid. It's really a lot of fun to watch them. I hate missing the games, I love going to them. I spend one night a week going to the games and if we have a home game I am able to go to a game on the weekend.
What are you like watching their games?
I yell a lot of stuff to my son. It drives me crazy when he is out in the outfield looking up at the sky and not paying attention. I will get on him. He gets an earful on the way to the games about staying focused and working hard. I give him pointers throughout the game. I try not to do too much because I don't want to wear him down. I try not to coach them. I would be too overbearing if I coached my sons so I try to stay away.
Have they talked about playing football yet?
My son is in second grade and he was talking to my wife the first couple of days of school and the teacher sent home some questions she had to ask him. One of the questions was why do you need to get good grades in school. His answer was I need to get good grades in school so I can play college football. I was proud of that. He knows in order to get to college you need good grades.
Are they at the age where they understand what dad does?
They are and it's a lot of fun. My oldest son was at the Super Bowl when we played. He still remembers that. Right now my two oldest sons and daughter (Chloee) know what's going on. She came in to my room after our Monday Night game and said daddy I saw you on TV last night. They understand it. They love it. It's a lot of fun. I hope they remember it when I am older and they remember those times and how exciting this time of our lives was.
When you leave practice do you go home and do homework with them and the like?
When I leave here I am like a normal father. I tell people when I leave here I go home to my second job. There are times when I am tired from practice, worn out from a long day, you had a Monday night game and the next morning you are up getting the kids off to the bus stop, changing diapers, doing all of the normal stuff a father does.