PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Drafted in 1998 to be one of the next great Steelers defensive linemen, California native Jeremy Staat lasted only a couple of years.

Eventually, he joined the Marine Corps. following the death of his friend Pat Tillman. Staat told The Cook and Poni Show on 93.7 the Fan Thursday about his journey.

“At the end of the day, I hold my head higher up being a Marine than being a Steeler,” Staat said. “No offense to anyone out there listening, but there are bigger things out there, believe it or not, than the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Staat said he had always thought about joining the Marines and after Tillman’s death he felt it was now or never.

“The decision was literally a spiritual-based decision,” said Staat who was a college teammate of Tillman. “If there is a God up there, if you’re up there sitting on high, I’m going to put faith to the test. I’m going to join the United State Marine Corps. I’m going to go in as an infantry machine gunner. I’m going to go to Iraq and if you’re up there, bring me home safe.”

Staat said it wasn’t hard to leave the game.

“I was considered the bust, but at the end of the day, the career, the football, it was just a small chapter in my life. One of the biggest accomplishments in my life thus far was making the decision to go to the Marine Corps. Serving something bigger than just the NFL,” said Staat.

Staat only stayed long enough in the NFL to earn his pension, that at the behest of Tillman. Staat told 93.7 The Fan he often struggled with the pressures of the game, especially the pedestal he was put on being a second-round pick.

“You have people coming up to you, who you don’t even know saying, ‘You’re a bust,'” said Staat. “I’d really like to punch you in the throat right now, but I can’t because you know I’m worth this amount of money, so if I punch you in the throat, you will sue me.”

Click the audio link below to hear more from the former Steeler about his life’s journey.

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