PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – On a 95 degree spring day in central Florida, less than half a mile from the gate to Disney World, KDKA-TV’s Jory Rand found a group of NFL players hard at work.
Among them were Ike Taylor, William Gay and James Farrior.
“Yeah, it’s pretty brutal,” Farrior said. “It hurts now, but it will help for later.”
The gathering has nothing to do with the NFL lockout. In fact, most of the players have been going there for years.
“Since the 7th grade,” Ike Taylor said.
Taylor came to work with Tom Shaw, a former track coach who was been working with NFL Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers for more than 20 years.
“That’s probably the biggest compliment I have,” Shaw said. “When you have guys coming from Pittsburgh and different teams, and they say what’s James doing? And what’s Ike doing? And then you get those guys that come down.”
It’s not just Steelers that are in attendance. Guys like 2004 Pro Bowl wide receiver Javon Walker and Patriots running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis joined the Pittsburgh contingent.
“Once we get on this field, we’re all trying to help each other get through it. It doesn’t matter what team (you’re from), we’re trying to get through this workout, because we’re working in this heat,” Taylor said.
Even as they work, the pall of the lockout, and the possibility of there being no season at all, hangs over the players’ heads.
“There’s still some stuff in the air we need to get worked out,” Farrior said. “But I’m positive there will be a season this year. I pay attention — we have to pay attention. I’m in the house with two free agents right now so, they keep me updated with what’s going on.”
One of those free agents is Taylor, who may see his eight-year run with the Steelers come to an end. If it does, it won’t be due to a poor relationship with his bosses.
“I call him (Steelers Chairman Emeritus Dan Rooney) pops,” Taylor said. “I don’t even call him Mr. Rooney. In my phone, I’ve got him under Papa Rooney. A Hall of Fame guy, a guy of that stature…if you hear from guys on other teams, you can’t talk to the owner.”
“Mr. Rooney, out of respect comes down to the locker room. (His) door’s always open. And if you come in from somewhere else, and don’t know Mr. Rooney, you wouldn’t know he’s the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s the type of guy and family over there. They say players first and they run their organization like a players’ first mentality. And that’s why you win.”
However, it wasn’t all business on the trip. Farrior touched on Ben Roethlisberger’s upcoming wedding.
“Totally excited man,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. Should be a good event.”
He also talked about Hines Ward’s dancing ability.
“I never knew he had it in him. I don’t know if anyone did. I don’t even think he knew himself, but we got a chance to go out there and see him live, and he did a great job. And he’s been doing phenomenal the whole time, and I think he’s working his way into the finals,” Farrior said.
“I never thought I’d be watching that. I’m not really into dancing and you know it’s not something I watch on [television], but I have to support my teammate.”