Ross Ventrone could easily be the poster child for never giving up. No matter how many times he was released, how many doors were shut on him, he always managed to keep one open and hold on to his dream of playing in the NFL.
The Steelers released the safety twice before he finally latched on to a spot on the active roster last year, and prior to that he was cut 11 times, yes that's 11, by the New England Patriots.
Top photos of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ross Ventrone.
"It was hard, especially with my situation," said Ventrone, who played at Villanova but is from the Pittsburgh area. "It's the unknown, what is going to happen, where you are going to be. I used to think about it more, crunch numbers, things like that. That is going to make you crazy. I have taken the approach now that I am just going to go out there and play the best football I can and make it good enough to help out. Coaches say you always have to produce. I just look to give my best and produce as much as I can.
"I have been up and down so many times. People look at it as a negative thing and ask why I would still keep doing it. I look at it as a positive thing, hey I am still around. I still have a shot at this thing. This is what I love to do. There have been tons of ups and downs and there will be more, but since I have come into the league I have improved so much as a player, mentally and physically, and I am just looking toward the future to get better."
The 2014 season finally gave Ventrone that opportunity, that chance he needed, the opportunity to get better. After all the ups and downs he was signed to the Steelers active roster on Oct. 11, and spent the rest of the season contributing to special teams. He played in nine regular season games, as well as the team's AFC Wild Card game, and for him it was worth the wait.
"I had a great time last year playing," said Ventrone. "I finally had a chance to contribute in a positive way to the team and help out and I feel like I did. To come in everyday and play with these guys for my hometown team, it's a dream come true. Every day I looked at it like this is such a blessing. I am so happy I got to come in and do my part.
"I have approached every day as what can I do to get better. I just kept working my butt off. When I got called up, I was so excited to have the opportunity. Practice squad is so valuable to prepare the team for the game, but to have a role in the game I was so excited. To put on my hometown teams colors is special. The work paid off, but I still have a ton of work to do."
Ventrone is looking forward to the Steelers offseason program officially kicking off later this spring to get back to work with his teammates instead of working out on his own. He loves the atmosphere, loves the family feeling he thinks is unique in Pittsburgh.
"I love this game," said Ventrone. "It's seasons like this past one when you have a group of guys, the players, coaches, the organization everything together. I come here every day happy to walk into this building and call myself a Steeler. When you experience that, if you aren't motivated something is wrong. The love of the game pushes me to keep going. It's easy to stay motivated when you are a part of an organization like this."