By Teresa Varley
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley had a breakout season last year, his first as a starter, recording 11 ½ sacks during the regular season and an impressive six in the post-season.
Those are numbers he hopes to shatter this year and for good reason. First, he wants nothing more than to be able to help the defense continue to be dominant and do all he can to help the team win.
There is another incentive this year as well. He has started the LaMarr Woodley Sack Attack, which begins with the team's first regular season game on Thursday against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.
Woodley will donate $500 for every sack this season to youth charities in Pittsburgh and his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan. Woodley started the program with a $5,000 donation and hopes to add to it on a regular basis.
"The more sacks I get, the more I can help this team and help the children as well," said Woodley. "It plays two parts. It is killing two birds with one stone. I can help the team with sacks and the community."
Last year Woodley and fellow linebacker James Harrison had a friendly competition to see who could finish with the most sacks. Harrison won out with a team-record 16 sacks, but Woodley is ready to challenge him again this year.
"The rivalry will start from the first game," said Woodley. "My goal is to get a jump on James. He is one of those guys if you slip up he will pass you and take off and I will play follow the leader. There will always be a sack challenge between me and him, I will push him and he will push me."
Charities that will benefit from Woodley's strong play this year are The Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania, Heroes for Kids in Saginaw, Michigan and All Stars Helping Kids.
"It will help benefit children's lives," said Woodley. "They are our future generation. It's good to give back to them. They are going to take over our country one day."
Woodley was a regular at the Boys & Girls Club when he was growing up and that is one of the reasons he choose that as his charity in Pittsburgh.
"That was my big thing after school," said Woodley. "I would play pool, ping pong, basketball, take field trips. That was a big part of my life as a young kid. I always assumed everything was just there. You didn't realize there were people there doing this type of thing to help."
Anyone who wants to make a pledge to LaMarr Woodley's Sack Attack can do so by visiting Sack Attack.