Talking Steelers Football With Myron Bell
Not many kids have the chance to grow up and play for the NFL team that they cheered for their entire life, but for former Steelers safety Myron Bell that was the case.
Bell grew up in Toledo, Ohio where the Steelers were one of the teams that people followed and he was drawn to them, cheering them one from the time he got interested in the sport.
Bell was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round in 1994 and played for them until 1997, starting in Super Bowl XXX. He went on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals, but after a stint out of the game returned to the Steelers during the 2000 season and played in 2000-01.
He currently works with Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system with at-risk youth and helps his church with youth sports.
Bell recently took time out to talk with Teresa Varley for a feature on Steelers.com titled Talking Steelers Football.
How did you become a Steelers fan?
I was born in 1971 so in the late 70s when it was the Steel Curtain and the Cowboys and Steelers were playing in the Super Bowl. In my neighborhood you were either a Steelers fan or a Cowboys fan. I identified with the Steelers. I don't know what it was. It's who I gravitated towards. They were all down to earth people who cheered for the Steelers. Growing up I had the Steelers alarm clock, bed spread, telephone, curtains, jacket and dirt bike. I did. It was the only team I ever rooted for and then I was blessed to play for them. I am a Steeler at heart. It was a blessing to play for them.
Who were some of your favorite players growing up?
Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Lynn Swann, Mel Blount, Donnie Shell, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Greene. It's on and one. I had the chance to be in the same locker room where they were when they played. Mel Blount and I connected after I retired. Being involved with at-risk youth I had him as a mentor since that is what he has done.
What was it like to play for the team you cheered for as a kid?
I didn't realize how much of a blessing it was because I got caught up in winning and what number I was going to get drafted. On draft day I literally cried, not because of the team that I went to but because I thought I was better than a lot of guys that went ahead of me. My pride was hurt. My mom quickly brought some things to my attention and straightened me up real quick. She told me it was a blessing to have this opportunity, plus I was playing for a team I always rooted for.
From that time on that humbled me for my four years there. I was able to work with guys like Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake, Kevin Greene, Dermontti Dawson, John Jackson, Leon Searcy and Darren Perry to name a few. I learned so many things from those guys. On top of that the coaching with Coach (Bill) Cowher, Dom Capers, Dick LeBeau, John Mitchell and Tim Lewis. And then you have the Rooney family. It was a total blessing. You don't see those things while you are in it but when you get away from it you realize those people are there for a reason.
Was it surreal to meet some of the players you cheered for and play on same field as them?
It was very powerful meeting them. Me being competitive I wouldn't allow them to be ga-ga over them, but inside it was like wow. I kept it professional, but inside I was leaping with joy.
You made the comment about Dan Rooney that "he changed your life." How so?
He changed my life because it's his team and he let me live out a dream of playing in the NFL. On top of that he paid me for that. That impacted my family as well. He helped change my life and the life of my family. My family and friends got to go and experience a Super Bowl. That's something they never thought they would experience.
After your original stint with the Steelers, you re-signed here. What was it like to come back?
That was what I needed. As a professional athlete I was at a point where I allowed doubt to seep in about my talents. When I got that call that was where I needed to be and the coaches were the ones who could get me where I needed to go. That was the hardest I worked in my whole career. It showed I could still play the game, that I was still competitive and could still work hard. It brought something more than football to me. It gave me confidence that I still have today. It did a whole lot for me. I felt like a step-child with the other teams I was with. It was coming back home. You can be who you are because they know you. It was refreshing to come back there and experience that on the way out of football.
Do you appreciate your playing days more now than you did when you played?
I appreciate the game 10 times more now. Now that I am away from it I can sit back and look at it. This opportunity is not given to everybody. I look at some of the athletes today that take things for granted. I feel sorry for them. They don't realize how important this opportunity it. It's so much bigger than just football.
How closely do you follow the Steelers now?
They are my team. That is it. I don't root for anyone else. When I was in high school the Steelers didn't do too well. They were my team but I watched college football then. When I got to college they were competitive again. And since then it's just been them. Since I retired I have been able to really look at things that have been brought into my life. Now with the renewal from the reunion weekend I am wearing my throwback jersey and all of that and wearing my Steelers stuff everywhere. I am a true fan.
What was your favorite memory from your playing days?
It would be going on the road trips. It was the Friday practice, getting up Saturday, getting a hair cut and whatever you had to do and meeting at the airport dressed for business. We would have that chance to unwind and chit-chat for that hour or two we are on the plane going to whatever city it is we were going to conquer. That was overall the time I enjoyed most about my career, when we were going off on a business trip to take over any stadium we were going to with that mindset. I enjoyed that experience.
*When you hear the name Steelers, what is the first thing that comes to mind? *Family.