Cedrick Wilson tired of losing

That's why, after establishing himself at San Francisco, he left the 49ers for the Pittsburgh Steelers before this season.

      As they might say in a popular beer commercial, good call.

      After upsetting the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC playoffs, Wilson and the Steelers are one win away from the Super Bowl, one win away from the grandest stage in all of football.

      Meanwhile, the 49ers went 3-13, they're third straight losing season. They've won just 11 games in three seasons.

      ```I've never been in a losing program before,'' said Wilson, who was on Tennessee's 1998 national championship team. ``I didn't want my NFL career to be that way. I figured it would help my career if I was on a winning team.''

      Wilson, a free agent after last season, was aware the Steelers weren't going to keep wide receiver Plexico Burress. Wilson also said he has admired Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher for a long time.

      ``He reminds me a lot of the coaches that I've been around, the type winning attitude I felt I needed to be around,'' said Wilson, a five-year pro. ``That's one of the biggest reasons I came.''

      Wilson said he felt his physical style of play would fit it well with the Steelers.

      ``Throughout my college career, I was known as being a tough receiver, blocking and going across the middle, things of that nature,'' Wilson said.

       Wilson knew he'd be asked to block downfield for the Steelers, but he's been surprised as how often.

      ``That was tough thing for me,'' said the 5-10, 183-pound Wilson, who was a sixth-round pick by the 49ers in 2001. ``I'm used to being on passing teams. Coming here, I knew we weren't going to pass it a lot. But I didn't know we'd run it as much as we've run it.

      ``I've come into my own. I'm understanding my role now. I'm being very unselfish. That's what it's gong to take for us to win a Super Bowl. You look at the New England Patriots. That's one of the reasons those guys have been in the Super Bowl so much because they've got so many unselfish players. That's where we're trying to get to.''

      Pittsburgh is one step away from the Super Bowl in part because of a huge play made by Wilson in a first-round playoff game at Cincinnati. Wilson was the recipient of a trick play that resulted in a touchdown and virtually put the game away.

      Pittsburgh lined up receiver Antwaan Randle El at running back and used a direct snap to him. El started to run right, then lateraled left to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who fired a strike downfield to an open Wilson for the score.

      It was Wilson's first touchdown of the season and the seventh of his NFL career.

      ``It's been tough,'' Wilson said of his touchdown drought. ``We were practicing that play all year long and we finally got it called. I guess Cincinnati wasn't ready for it.''

      At midseason, it didn't appear Pittsburgh was ready for a playoff run. The injury-plagued Steelers were 7-5 after three straight losses.

      ``After those three losses, we really found out about the character of the guys on the team, who was still willing to work and play this thing to the end and who was ready to go home,'' Wilson said.

      Wilson is impressed with Roethlisberger, a second-year pro.

      ``He's a football player,'' Wilson said. ``You can't get the affect of what he brings to the game until you watch him play. On Sunday, something turns on in him that he's able to make plays in the pocket or on the run, if things break down. He doesn't get sacked a lot. He makes a play out of nothing. That's what you need in the NFL.''

      Roethlisberger outplayed Peyton Manning, a two-time NFL MVP, in their playoff win over the Colts on Sunday. Yet, Wilson has the utmost respect for his former Tennessee teammate. Nothing Manning has done in the NFL has surprised Wilson.

      ``I expected Peyton to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL,'' Wilson said. ``That's what he is. Peyton's work ethic is like nothing I've ever seen, except for Jerry Rice, of course, and Walter Payton. No matter what accomplishments he achieves, he continues to get better each season.''

      Wilson has had a chance to play for two of the more storied NFL franchises – the 49ers and Steelers.

      ``It's an awesome accomplishment, I'll tell you that much,'' he said. ``I'm honored to say I've played for two of the best organizations in the NFL. It's helped me tremendously throughout my NFL career. My NFL career continues to blossom. The more and more I work with Ben Roethlisberger, the better both of us will be and the more passes I'll be able to get.''

      Wilson, who many doubted could play in the NFL, has 123 career receptions for 1,654 yards. He caught 26 passes this season for Pittsburgh after recording a career-high 47 the season before as a 49er. He's also averaged 21.3 yards per kickoff return with one touchdown, a 95-yard runback for San Francisco in 2003. 

Wilson Defends Former Teammate Terrell Owens

      Wilson defends Terrell Owens and said he'd love to have him as a teammate again. The two played together for three seasons in San Francisco.

      Wilson said Owens is a good teammate.

      ``Oh yeah, I mean, come on,'' Wilson said. ``He's the type teammate you want to go to war with. As many passes he catches, he also blocks well. That's what made Terrell Owens at SF, knocking defensive backs or linebackers down to the ground, things of that nature. He's a fierce competitor. You don't want to face him, I'll tell you that much.

      ``He's a great player. He's a great person and I would enjoy having him on my football team.''

      With the 49ers, Wilson said he saw Owens ``get frustrated at times with losing. He's a competitor. He wants to win. At the same time, he feels he should be compensated for his play. That's really his whole thing. He wants to be compensated for overachieving.

      ``You look at the NFL, if you're underachieving, sometimes they ask you to take a pay cut. But if you're overachieving, you're still supposed to make the same amount of cash.

      ``Now, are you bigger than the NFL? There's a collective bargaining agreement through the players association and NFL that says those things are legal. So there's really not too much you can do about it. He's a great player. I hope he has an opportunity to play in the NFL again.'' 

Friendly Rivalry with Ward 

      Wilson said he has some friendly arguments with Steelers teammate Hines Ward, a Georgia graduate.

      ``He still believes Georgia is better than Tennessee,'' Wilson said. ``When he was in college, they were dominated. When I was in college, we dominated them. But he still feels Georgia is better than Tennessee.

      `He tells me all the time, `You wish you could have come to Georgia.' I tell him all the time, `You wish you could have come to Tennessee, but we didn't recruit you.'''

      Wilson, Ward and Randle El all played quarterback at some point in their career. Wilson was the only one that didn't see some action at quarterback in college. Knowing any of the three could throw a pass gives defensive coordinators a headache.

      ``I can still throw the football 50 yards,'' Wilson said. ``One of these days I'll get a chance to show it.'' 

Vols Losing Season Tough on Wilson  

      Wilson said it was tough to watch the Vols go 5-6.

      ``Oh my goodness,'' he said. ``Every week, I had faith those guys would get it done. Everybody has to go through a down stage. We've been on top for so long. We've been doing great things for so long. Hopefully that's the last (bad) season. I know I can't take it any more. I'm sure others can't.''

      Wilson likes the addition to the staff of David Cutcliffe as offensive coordinator.

      ``I loved David when I was there,'' Wilson said. ``I felt like he helped my career advance because he liked me as a player and a person. I admire him a lot. I have full confidence he will do great things there.'' 

Inside Tennessee Top Stories