SnapShot: Roy Attieh

Prior to last season, Roy Attieh had a decision to make. The 6-foot-1 5/8, 310-pound nose tackle could get back down in the middle of the Kent State defensive line and attempt to control the best running games the MAC had to offer. Or he could begin to learn the nuances of the international spy game and attempt to control the bubbling world of terrorism. <br><br> Decisions, decisions.

Fluent in Arabic, Attieh was offered an internship with the CIA last summer. He turned it down in order to play his senior season of football.

"I had to decline it," he said. "With the 9-11 thing going on I proposed an offer to go work for them with an internship, but it ended too late and I didn't take the offer. I would've been done in late August and camp would've been almost done."

Attieh's parents came to the United States from Lebanon in 1978. Roy was born in Boonton, New Jersey, in 1979 and was raised in a home in which only Arabic was spoken. He learned how to write the language in college.

Of course, he also refined his football skills at college. After leading Bayley Ellard High School to the New Jersey state championship, the football-lacrosse-wrestling star chose to play football at Kent State, a school which had only one winning season since 1977. With Attieh, Kent State went 6-5 in 2001.

"My junior year was our only winning season," Attieh said. "Playing with my little brother was my highlight. Roger played on the defensive line with me. He's still there. He's got two more years. But I guess that's the biggest highlight. No championships, or nothing like that from there. Hopefully I'll never have to deal with that again."

Attieh believes he's a good fit for the Steelers. He was part of a 4-3 alignment at Kent State, but often used nose-tackle techniques. That and a 4.92 40 time at his campus workout interested the Steelers, who signed Attieh after the draft.

"I'm a 3-4 type player, a nose guard, so the Steelers are one of like five teams in the NFL that go with that, and I'm local, being an hour and a half away," he said. "I tried to play the best I could in college and I guess they recognized that."

Attieh (pronounced uh-TEE-uh) points out he's the same height as starting nose tackle Casey Hampton, and at 310 pounds could match Hampton's weight with a strong summer at the training table.

"I like nose guard," he said. "It's the center of all action, I guess, and everybody knows who you are and that you're a D-lineman. It's tough. You've got a lot of double teams going on and a lot of plays to recognize and know. Overall I like it."

Attieh, like fellow Kent State-bred rookie Nashville Dyer, believes he has a chance to make the team after former Kent State linebacker James Harrison showed the way last year.

"It's pretty cool we all got a chance to come here and play. We've been buddies. James was at my place during the draft. We hang out when he's back in Ohio. Nashville and I have been getting closer since our freshman year. So everybody's been buddies since Kent."

Is Harrison as mean as appearances indicate?

"He's an intimidating guy, just the way he looks around," Attieh said. "He's a chiseled dude, so you look at him and you're like ‘What's wrong with that guy? What's he thinking?' But that's his character. He's a teddy bear deep down. Don't let him scare you."

Are you a teddy bear?

"I'm a teddy bear when I have to be, but on the field I try not to be. I want to keep my spot. I want to do what some people think I can do here. That's basically it."

And if he doesn't make the cut, Attieh may have a more important calling. Is the spy game still a possibility?

"I'm going on a tour of the FBI building today, so I'm going to check it out," he said. "You never know."

Jim Wexell
SteelCitySports.com

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