By Jory Rand
ORLANDO, Fla. (KDKA) — James Farrior knows he doesn’t have too many more seasons to play in the NFL.
At 36 years old, Farrior is one of the oldest players left in the league, which was why it was so surprising to see him hard at work, in 95 degree heat, more than four months before the season was set to begin.
“I’m gonna play as long as they let me play,” Farrior said.
“He amazes me every year he comes down here,” says teammate William Gay who was joined Farrior for these Florida workouts. “Man, it’s a blessing to see a guy of that age, still running, still leading every drill.”
Farrior has been working with Coach Tom Shaw for more than a dozen years and credits his training with keeping him on the field.
“Once I found Tom,” he said, “I knew he was the guy for me.”
And Coach Shaw says other Steelers have taken notice.
“Troy Polamalu is coming down to train,” Shaw said, “because he’s been injured the last two-three years and he’s trying to figure out the fountain of youth James Farrior has found.”
What Troy will find is a concentration on speed and explosiveness, not necessarily strength.
“If Troy can get to where he can tone his entire body,” Shaw said, “and I always like to say, it’s the California personal trainers workout where you look great, but eventually your body starts to fall apart, and you get back to what I was talking about — you have to be explosive, you have to be powerful.”
And Farrior has somehow maintained both.
“I still have the data from when James came out as a rookie,” Shaw said, “and to be able to see that his vertical jump is the same. He hasn’t gotten better at his vertical, but he hasn’t dropped. And as soon as you start losing your explosive power, your game is really gonna start to suffer.”
It’s why guys like Farrior, in the twilight of their careers, have more to lose if there is no season due to a lockout.
“Deep down in my heart,” Farrior said, I believe we’re gonna get the thing resolved and there’s gonna be a season.”
Farrior also said he understands the turmoil NFL fans are going through as the two sides fight for more money.
“They think we’re just bickering over nothing,” he said. “They think it’s too many rich people out there. Too many egos. They’re tired of it already. I know we’re tired of it. They just want to see football.
“I can understand where they’re coming from. They don’t care what’s going on. How the decision gets made. They just want to see some football for next year.
“We’re working on it. We’re working on it. We just want a fair deal for both sides, and make everybody happy so the season can kick off and every, everybody will be happy,” he continued.
Willie Gay commiserates.
“Even my Grandma is mad because she looks forward to watching games after church. That’ll be a disappointment to a lot of people,” he said.
“At the end of the day,” Farrior adds, “deep down in my heart, they can’t let this go away.”
And as if he needed any more motivation to make sure there’s a season, Farrior need only look back at the end of last season, and the Steelers loss in the Super Bowl, something he thinks about often.
“At least once a day,” he told us. “I try to. I think I’ve come to terms with the loss and I think everybody has had time to digest everything but it’s still a tough loss. I think it will give us motivation for next year.”