Respect. It's not something that is just handed out, it has to be earned. And when it comes to football, there is only one way to earn it...work hard and give it your all every practice, every game, every time you take the field, and in everything you do off the field.
Ryan Clark, Brett Keisel, Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger live by that approach, and that is why they were voted by their teammates as the Steelers' 2013 team captains.
"It's touching. Words can't explain it," said Pouncey. "It's humbling and exciting at the same time. It's a great accomplishment and I appreciate it. Words can't even explain how I feel right now."
Roethlisberger has been a captain five out of the last six years on offense, but this is the first time that Pouncey was voted an offensive captain. His leadership really showed this offseason when he got the offensive line together to work out at the team's practice facility well before they were required to be there, always encouraging guys to keep at it.
"It comes natural to me to get guys going," said Pouncey. "There is a lot that comes with it. Being a captain you are one of the guys that everyone on the team counts on. You have to come every week ready to play."
This is the first time Clark has been voted a defensive captain, and for a player who is often outspoken, he joked that it "almost" left him speechless as well.
"It's probably the biggest honor I have received as a football player," said Clark. "The men in this building that play on our team mean so much to me. I am not going to change. I am not going to be any different. It's those things I have done that have allowed me to be voted captain. It's important to lead the young men on this team and the older guys to set an example on and off the field."
This is the second straight year Keisel was voted a captain and he understands what comes with the responsibility.
"Any time your teammates vote you as a leader and they respect you, it's a tremendous honor," said Keisel. "It's something I don't take lightly and the other three guys don't either. We have several guys in this locker room that are leaders that might not be captains, so it's going to be a collective effort to get ready to go and win games.
"I think the biggest thing I learned last year as a captain is don't hesitate. If I feel something, say something. You know the team respects you in that regard and will listen to you. That is the biggest thing, if you see something don't hesitate to say it."