LATROBE, Pa. – Several hours after LaMarr Woodley signed the contract extension that he says will allow him to play his entire career with the Steelers, he met the media outside the Saint Vincent College cafeteria before lunch. As the cameras and microphones encircled him, Hines Ward snuck up behind Woodley and punched up the O'Jay's on his iPhone.
"Money, money, money, money. Money."
Said Woodley, "They've been doing this all day."
On some teams there could be some jealousy over a player signing a big contract, but here it's good-natured grief.
"Jokes all day, ever since I came to breakfast," said Woodley. "I came to breakfast with my headphones on, but they made me take them off and they've been talking ever since. I guess it's going to last about a week or so, but I can't wait until it's over.
"Somebody asked me if I was going to buy an island. Somebody told me to buy the camera from the cameraman and buy him a new one. Am I gonna buy a yacht? All kinds of jokes. Dinner on me. Everything. They want me to get rid of my old Buick Roadmaster car I got. I can't get rid of that."
The six-year contract that Woodley signed binds him to the team through the 2016 season, when he will be 32 years old. The Steelers do not comment on the financial terms of player contracts, but published reports set the total value of the deal at $61.5 million.
"I knew we were pretty close (to a deal) yesterday. I just didn't want to give out any information about that," said Woodley. "Yes, it's definitely good. Now I know I'm going to be around here for the rest of my career, and that's good for me."
A second-round draft choice in 2007, Woodley has 39 sacks in 60 career games, 47 of which were starts. Also a guy who raises his game in the playoffs, Woodley has added 11 sacks in seven career postseason appearances.
Since 2010 was an uncapped year, players needed six seasons in the league for unrestricted free agency, and so Woodley played that season on a one-year restricted free agent tender. In February, the Steelers put the franchise tag on Woodley, which guaranteed him a one-year salary of $10 million for the 2011 season. That's a nice number, but Woodley likes this situation better, as do the Steelers who were able to reduce his cap number as a result of the extension.
"I had the franchise tag, and I was pretty excited about that," said Woodley. "I'm excited mostly because it's a long-term deal, and I know I'm going to be around here for a long time. That's something I wanted to happen when I first came in the door and saw the great linebackers who had come through here. I wanted to be a part of that great tradition and history around here, but to do that I had to be around here. Definitely I have my opportunity to leave my stamp when I'm done playing here."
He already has. In 2009, Woodley led the team with 13.5 sacks and was voted to his first Pro Bowl, and last season he recorded 10 sacks to join James Harrison as the only players in franchise history to post double-digit sack totals in back-to-back seasons. Woodley also set an NFL record by posting two sacks in each of his first four playoff games. Woodley's sack of Aaron Rodgers in Super Bowl XLV gave him three career sacks in Super Bowls, which ties him for second place all-time in that category.
And he also has added his name to the long, long list of Steelers linebackers who have made the Pro Bowl. There have been 61 Pro Bowls played, and the Steelers have had at least one linebacker in 43 of those games.
"No added pressure at all," said Woodley of signing a big contract. "You still have to go out and play football. People are going to expect a lot out of you because of the money you signed for, but you should expect a lot of yourself anyway, regardless of the money you sign for. I'm a competitive person, and if I didn't sign that contract I'd still go out and give my all. Last year, I didn't have a (long-term) contract, but I still went out and gave my all because that's the kind of person I am."
Woodley also is the kind of person to take care of his many fans.
"I had to break the story first. I set my alarm and I decided I was going to tweet this first thing in the morning," said Woodley. "That was the whole thing – breaking the story first. I wanted to break the story to my Twitter and Facebook followers for being so supportive of me."
He's also planning to take care of his family, starting with his 3-year-old daughter.
"She knows a little bit about football, she knows Hines Ward and some of the big names on our team," said Woodley. "I'm amazed by that, but she doesn't understand this situation now. When she gets a little bit older, then she will understand.
"Making this kind of money now is for long-term. A lot of people think the money is just for now, but I kind of look at it for the future, for my kids and my kids' kids and be passed on for many generations. That's always something I've talked about ever since I was younger – I hopefully wanted to make a lot of money one day so it could be passed on from generation to generation. Right now, I'm at a point where I can do that."
He's at a point where he can do a lot of things, but don't expect Woodley to run out and begin enjoying his newfound financial freedom.
"I don't think I need to buy anything. Honestly," said Woodley. "I'm not moving. I don't need to buy anything right now. I may do different things as far as my family members and stuff like that, my mom and my dad and my brothers and sisters. But I think I'm fine right now."