<I>Courtesy of <A HREF="http://steelers.theinsiders.com">Steel City Sports</A></I><BR>There was a time before... a nightmare nearly forgotten. Yes, <A HREF="http://scout.theinsiders.com/a.z?s=149&p=8&c=1&nid=293300&yr=2002">Earl Holmes</A> was once a "Steeler", a tragic blotch on an otherwise impressive resume. Holmes talks to Pittsburgh reporters in this transcript provided by the doomed Squeeler fans at Steel City Sports.
Hey guys, where's my man Eddie Bouchette?
How's the north coast?
- Earl Holmes: Oh, man, everything's great. I found a new home. I'm happy here. I'm just doing my thing, playing football and trying to be damn good at it.
Just another game?
- EH: No, I wouldn't say that. You know the big rivalry between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Now I'm just on the other side of the fence.
We have a list of things you used to say about the Browns, Earl.
- EH: Well, I have to turn it back around now, huh? To be honest with you, I know some things are going to be said but regardless of who I'm playing for, I'm happy here and I'm just going to try to go out and try to do the things I've been doing the last seven years. I'm just going to play the way Earl Holmes knows how to play, regardless of who we're playing. Whether it's Pittsburgh or Tennessee, every game's a big game, especially a division game.
Can you come in here and win?
- EH: Yes. The team that plays well for the 60 minutes, makes the least amount of mistakes, is going to win.
Wasn't there enough support to keep you here?
- EH: I said awhile ago, Cowher and I have an understanding, a great relationship on and off the field. Man to man, we talked about it. It was a business decision, nothing personal. So I didn't get into the personal thing or the business thing. I thought I did the right thing. The choice that I made, I did for me and my family. I have no problem with Pittsburgh, the front office, or whatnot. It's their team, if they wanted a particular guy to replace me, so be it. I played with Levon Kirkland, he's now in Philadelphia. I played with Chad Brown, he's now in Seattle. I played with Carlos Emmons, he's in Philadelphia and so on and so forth. I played with a lot of guys and they're elsewhere. It's part of the business. It's nothing personal. I'm not going to take it personally. They probably did the best thing for the organization. I had to do the best thing for me. I'm in a new organization and I'm going to do the best I can do.
How good is your defense?
- EH: We've taken a step forward. Actually we took two steps forward against Tennessee. We held them to 188 total yards. We're coming along. Slowly but surely we're coming along. We're a young team. There are a lot of new guys on the team. We've got some old guys in new places but at the same time we all know how to play football. Everything takes time and I think each week we've taken a step forward.
Why didn't the contract proposals work out?
- EH: I don't know. To be honest with you, I don't know. It's a business thing. I don't get into the thing with the front office. I'm a soldier. I get my commands, go out there and play the game. I don't put on the nice suit and tie and go up front and look for a guy to see how old he is, how fast he is, how quick he is. I'm the guy who goes out there and does a job the best way Earl Holmes knows how to do it. When it comes to the business part of it, I really don't know and it's not my concern. It's their team. I don't have no kind of bad memories about anything other than we were so close to winning a Super Bowl last year and we fell short. Other than that, hey, I'm still playing football, I feel great, I'm happy to be a Brown and I'm going to make the best of it.
Are you surprised the Pittsburgh defense is having trouble against the spread offense?
- EH: It's the team that makes the adjustment. OK, if you know they're spreading you out wide, you're going to have time on the sideline and you make the adjustment and resolve that problem. If teams spread you out, something else has to be done about it. It's like a boxing match. You've got to counter what people do to you. Right now, it's been successful to spread them out, take away their blitz, dink and dunk the ball and keep moving the chains. It's working. It's a part of the game. Those guys get paid, too. Just looking at it from playing the 3-4 for six years, it's something that can work. But they're a good defense. I'm pretty sure Tim and Mike Archer and those guys will get together and see how people are attacking them and try something different, especially after having a week off.
The locker room isn't the same without you.
- EH: You know, I said that when Levon Kirkland left, when Greg Lloyd left, when Chad Brown left. The locker room's not the same. But at the same time, the friendships and relationships you develop with those guys in training camp, the same way with the relationship I started over here that started in preseason and training camps, we're all athletes and we're all competitors and we all have something in common: We all want to win and that's the bottom line.
Will you have words with Jerome
before the game?
- EH: Jerome and those guys, Hines Ward, they're all right with me. They just want to do their job as well as I want to do mine. In this business, someone has to win and someone has to lose. I'm going to go out and play hard; I know they're going to play hard. May the best team win. I don't have anything to say towards J.B. or anybody like that. But come Sunday, one o'clock is game time, time to buckle your helmet and playing the game.
The Steelers haven't been running the ball. What are you expecting this Sunday?
- EH: I'm expecting them to try to get their running game started a little bit more. They're a lot more successful when they're running the ball as well. In this business, if you can't stop the run you're going to be in for a long, long day, so I'm thinking they're going to come in and run Jerome on us. Jerome's a good back but they've got a helluva good offensive line, one of the better offensive lines we've faced all year. We just got to go out and read our keys and get 11 guys to the ball.
You guys aren't stopping the run well, are you?
- EH: Everything takes time. From the first game, from Priest Holmes to Corey Dillon, we took a step forward. And from Corey Dillon to Eddie George we took two steps forward. So it's come along. We don't want to be playing our best football until week 10 or 11, but each week we want to get better and I think we're going to get better.
What was the 4-3 like for you at first?
- EH: It's just football. It's something new to me, but at the same time it is football. Different schemes and different run gaps but it is football and that's something I like to do.
Do you like working for Foge?
- EH: That's my guy. Foge is my guy man. Orpheus came from Pittsburgh as well, and then we got Bowers over here. It's home for me. Home is playing football. I love the game. I really love the game. I'm enjoying myself here and I'm looking to have a big game Sunday. May the best team win.
said that you left him your legacy of trash talk.
- EH: I'm glad I passed it over to somebody. They still have Lethon Flowers there, so I'm pretty sure those two guys can hold it down.