Chargers - Steelers musings

Off the field, the Chargers and Steelers have been busy. Charity endeavors are never uncommon and with that is some perks, such as working with the Navy, witnessing the new Pope being named, earning a nickname and true charity – starting a Diabetes fund.

San Diego Chargers guard Kris Dielman, linebacker Ben Leber and tight end Justin Peelle had the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience with the Navy earlier this year.

The three players spent a night aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as part of the Navy's Distinguished Visitor program. The trip was arranged by Peelle, whose grandfather, Captain Morgan "Moe" Peelle is a retired Navy captain.

Aboard the ship, the players toured the entire carrier and observed flight operations as F/A-18F Super Hornets and other Navy and Marine aircraft catapulted off the deck.

"We got the privilege of going up to the navigation bridge," recalled Dielman. "And here were all these young sailors running this gigantic ship. That's quite a responsibility for these young guys."

While signing autographs for the crew on the mess decks, the Chargers players said they'd never forget such an experience.

"To see what these young men and women are doing is truly remarkable," said Dielman.

Added Leber, "It was an overwhelming experience and we're very thankful for everything those guys do out there."

Pittsburgh Steelers guard Kendall Simmons has teamed up with Utrecht Art Supplies to produce a limited edition poster featuring the Steelers' first-round pick of 2002. Proceeds from the 18" x 27" print, commissioned by artist Ben Gersch, will benefit the Western Pennsylvania Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Simmons was diagnosed with hyperglycemia, a diabetic condition that caused him to lose 30 pounds and significant strength before training camp in 2003.

"At first, it was a blow to me," says Simmons. "But I've learned that the disease is what I make it. I'm not going to let diabetes ruin my life. No one would know I have diabetes unless I tell them. And right now, I feel like the perfect person to educate people about the disease."

• How does one earn the nickname "Fast?" Ask Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker.

"I was 12 or 13 when I started practicing on my speed and I used to beat everybody in the neighborhood in races," says Parker.

The 5-10, 209-pound back has been clocked at 4.23 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has not lost a foot race to a human being since his freshman year in college. Growing up, on the side streets of Clinton, North Carolina, Parker used to sprint by his father's car to see if he could beat dad home. And for a real challenge, he'd race against pit bulls.

"You should have seen it," says Willie Parker, Sr. "They'd have a guy on the far end calling for the dog when the race started. You'd see the two at full gallop, running to the finish line. It was amazing to see so much speed."

• San Diego Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards and his wife Kathryn visited the Italian countryside this past spring.

The two happened to be visiting the Vatican when the white smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel's chimney announcing to the world that Pope Benedict XVI had been chosen to succeed Pope John Paul II.


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