Deshea Townsend remembers the lessons he learned while playing for the Steelers, ones that helped lead him to his current career as the cornerbacks coach at Mississippi State University.
There were veteran players who mentored him, took him under their wing. And as he matured and became one of the veterans he did the same thing for younger players, becoming their mentor, their coach on the field.
"I always had guys who took me under their wing, Carnell Lake and Darren Perry, and showed me how to practice and made sure I was doing it right," said Townsend. "What they said was make sure you do it for the younger guys as well. That's how it was. We made sure the guy under you knew what to do. It was like you were a coach when you were playing. It's something I love to do. I wanted to make sure the young guys knew as much as I did and that led me to this field."
Townsend, who played for the Steelers from 1998-2009, embarked on a coaching career as soon as his playing days ended, working as the Arizona Cardinals assistant defensive backs coach (2011-12), before taking the position at Mississippi State in 2013.
His schedule has made it tough for him to return to Pittsburgh to see the Steelers play or practice, but the opportunity arose for him to catch one of the OTA sessions when he was in town recently.
"It's always great to see where it started at, the guys still working the same way and the mindset of the guys when you see them practice," said Townsend. "It's a lot different to have time to come out and watch. It's always great to get around other coaches and hear what they are doing so I can become a better coach.
"I love football so when you can't run and cover the gold ball anymore you have to point at the gold ball and tell the other guys how to get to it. It's great. I love the game of football."