A Closer Look: Stevan Ridley
Position: Running Back
Experience: 6th Season
Twitter Handle: @StevanRidley
Who is your football mentor or inspiration?
Growing up my favorite player was Emmitt Smith. That is why I wear No. 22. I wore it in high school. I wanted it in college but it wasn't available. I grew up watching Emmitt run the football for the Dallas Cowboys. It nearly gave my dad a heart attack because he was a diehard Raiders fan. I always wanted to watch the Cowboys. He was my inspiration growing up.
What did it mean to you when you were able to get No. 22 here?
I was ecstatic. No disrespect to William Gay, but the day he left I was waiting on the call to come from the Steelers and if they re-signed me I told them I wanted to re-sign and wanted to get my number if it was cool with them. It did work out and they came through for me.
What motivates you?
My mom, Carolyn, for sure. She is a strong Christian lady and has been the rock of our family. She is the person who has always told me to keep God first and what is meant for me is what is going to be. The journey hasn't been the easiest, but mom has always been there for me. I eventually want to be able to tell her she can lay it all down and relax, but it's going to take me a few years to get there, but that is the main drive for me.
What has been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?
I would say my second ACL injury on my contract year. That was a huge blow, being spit out by a team on that year. That was a huge blow. But I believe what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It motivated me to keep pushing, get back to where I am. I knew the player that I am. Injuries happen to everyone, unfortunately mine was taking that loss my contract year.
How did you overcome it?
I embraced it. I leaned on my family. It was one of those deals that I had to decide was that going to be the end for me because it was my second ACL or did I want to make the push to come back. Jack Marucci, the head athletic trainer at LSU, and Dr. Brent Bankston were my same trainer and doctor in college. I went back to them and was in good hands. Once they told me I could come back, I kept pushing. I love the game, I love playing. What player doesn't go through some kind of adversity? I took it day-by-day and here I am still getting back on track with a better team and better organization.
What scares you?
Maybe not getting that chance to show. I have been cut a few times. I've seen competition. I know I am better than guys. But the business is real. There is a lot that goes into this game that we play. It's tough to be on a 53-man roster, but it's a blessing to be on a 53-man roster, to get that opportunity. The only thing that scares me in maybe not getting that chance. But I have faith in God and you end up somewhere for a reason.
When did you start to dream about playing in the NFL?
As a kid. I watched my older brother play, and he was very good and talented. My dad also played and was talented and good. I was in third or fourth grade when I started playing. It started to be a love of mine and something I enjoy doing.
Why do you play football?
For my family. There is nothing like competing number one. Being home the last two years after the ACL, you realize how much you enjoy competing on Sunday, running out of the tunnel, being in the locker room with guys who love doing the same thing you love doing. Once you experience that and then it's taken away from you, and you have to watch it from the sidelines and television, you realize how much you love what you do. I put my all into it. This is a tremendous blessing to be here. There are a lot of kids that dream like I did and never got the shot that I got, so I have to go hard for those people. It's a dream for them and I get to do it as a reality. I don't take it for granted.
When you hear Steelers football, what do you think?
This is old school football. So many legends have played here. They are the tough guys. I embrace that, seeing how Coach (Mike) Tomlin coaches. And the offensive line, they have always had such a mean, nasty offensive line and to be with this group of guys that are the real deal. And the tough defense. It's a solid football organization. You are among the best. Being on the dark side in New England for four years, and doing it there, and then you come to this side and you see the mentality and work ethic these guys have, and they are living up to it every day, by the work they put in. This is an organization built on hard work and humble people.