ART ROONEY II
Good afternoon. When we started the off-season this year we identified improving our running game as one of our objectives and today we think we've taken a major step forward with our signing of Duce Staley. It's been an interesting process. Duce was here on Monday and told us how much he wanted to be a Steeler and when he left on Monday night we figured well we probably won't see him again. But turns out he really did want to be a Steeler and we're very happy to have him with us. Duce, welcome.
It's truly an honor to be a part of an organization that's committed to winning, that's committed to excellence and for once in my life, Coach (Bill) Cowher, an organization that's committed to running the ball. I'm just happy; I'm thankful to be a part of the black and gold. There's a lot of history here. Trust me, a lot of people have told me. I see it in the airport. I see it when I'm getting my luggage. I see it in the hotels. And it gives me chills just to be a part of something that's great.
I'm just a small piece, just a small piece of a plan in a big puzzle that the coaches have and I'm just glad to be here. Without a doubt in my mind, the ultimate goal is something that's definitely on my mind. I got a chance to walk past four Super Bowl trophies. That's the closest I've ever been to those trophies. Just to see them behind the glass gives me chills also. I'm proud to be a Steeler.
Q: Was the way they run the ball the biggest attraction here?
A: That was a part of it. I actually got a chance to talk to Coach Cowher and I was telling him I was able to look over and see you guys continue to pound the ball, and just to be a part of that running game, just to be a part of a good backfield with Jerome (Bettis), a guy who is definitely a future Hall of Famer. I can still learn a lot from him. There's no question about it. Of course, I'm a running back. I lick my chops when I see the ball is being run as many times as those guys have run it over the past and even up to now. That played a big part in it.
Q: Have you talked to Jerome yet?
A: I have not. I have not talked to Jerome but I look forward to it. Actually, when I get out of here I'm going to give him a call. I know Jerome and he'll welcome me to the family. We're both two competitive guys that's going to push each other. That's going to make the running back situation better.
Q: Do you have something to prove?
A: I feel like I've got to come in and just do what I do best. I think if I go out and feel like I have something to prove that's when you start getting away from things that got you here. I'm not here for that. I'm here to fit in the best way I know how. Just get the ball and do what I've been doing over a seven-year career. I'm just happy to be here. I talked to my agent about it on the way up here. You hear about the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm a man, of course, and I said 'I'm not going to break down.' But I did get a few chills walking through the door because growing up that's all you hear about is the Steelers, so I'm proud.
Q: Was the way they run the ball the biggest attraction here?
A: Definitely. I think that's what he was trying to learn on. It's pretty much the same thing I just answered. It is. It is. Just knowing that Coach Cowher's committed to running the ball. I've been in three NFC Championship Games where we did not run the ball and we did not get a chance to advance. When I look back, I know that was one of the key factors. Of course, getting the touches through the passing game is important, but I know how important it is to run the ball, and these guys do, too.
Q: Do you want to be on the field all three downs? Do you expect to be?
A: However I fit in. That's one thing about me. Whether it's first down, second down, third down, whenever I'm called, whenever they say 'hey we need you twenty-two,' that's when I'm in. The West Coast offense is totally different. I have to get in; I have to learn this offense of course. I consider myself an every-down back but I was also used on third down, so I'm pretty familiar with that.
Q: Why did you lose your starting job last year?
A: It's a long story. Actually, Andy (Reid) and I had our differences coming in and he decided to go a different way, and that's what he did. But towards the end we worked our differences out and we were able to move on. I'm here now, so that's all that really matters. As far as what went on last year, that's time in the past. I'm looking to turn over a new leaf and move on.
Q: What was it like playing in 1998 with a double hernia?
A: It was tough. It definitely was tough. I knew then if I could play through that I could pretty much play through anything. Each game, each week, during the course of the week, I had to take time off but I was able to go out and play Sundays. That's something I don't wish upon anybody. To play with those hernias was tough.
Q: The rehab from the foot injury was difficult wasn't it?
A: Yeah the rehab was definitely difficult. Actually, I had the chance to meet with some doctors before I had the surgery and those guys were telling me 'hey Duce we don't know, we can't make any guarantees, but we don't know if you'll ever play the game again.' So of course I was concerned. My passion for the game, my love for the game, was all up in the air. But I'm truly blessed. The lord has truly blessed me and put me in a situation where I was able to come back and play at a high level. Just going through the six-month rehab, doing everything from picking up marbles with my toes and putting them in a cup. I mean, actually I can tell you all kinds of stuff that you'd probably laugh about but that was a part of my rehab.
Q: What's your strength as a running back?
A: I think as the game goes on, the more carries I get I get stronger. I think that's important. Come the fourth quarter, you've got a lead, you want to run the ball and I pride myself on being strong during the fourth quarter. I train hard and it has me ready to play.
Q: Do people underestimate your power?
A: I hope they do. Hope so. I don't know. I attack every game the same way. I'm ready to play. I get up in the morning -- I don't have any rituals or anything -- but I'm just so hyped and ready to play. I was telling coach that he may have to whisper over there 'hey Duce, calm down.' But coach said, 'hey you may have to tell me, hey coach, calm down.' So we'll both be in the same boat.
Q: Coach, what made Duce attractive to you.
Cowher: Duce brings a lot of things to the table. He's got as good a hands as any back in the league. He's played third downs; he's a power runner; he's got excellent balance; not an easy guy to get off his feet with the first guy. Duce is going to come in here and compete with Jerome and Verron (Haynes). The thing I like about him is when you talk to him and players around him, he's very competitive but he's very unselfish. He's been over in Philadelphia and yet when they needed to go to him when it got to playoff time, he was there. He didn't probably like the fact it was a three-man rotation, but he's been through it. Jerome's been through it. I think you got two quality people and I know we've got quality backs. There are a lot of things he brings: his professionalism and the way he competes. I don't know if you can surround yourself with enough guys like that. He's a winner. We're out to kind of re-establish that next year.
Q: Coach, it sounds like you're going to run the ball more.
BC: Well, I guess we better now. We've got to have balance. We have a pretty good corps of receivers. You have to have balance and we've always had that. I'd like to think last year was an aberration. Certainly you need to have two good backs. It's proven. You're playing in here in December and January and it's nice to have good power backs. Like I said to him, we've got to get to where he's taking on DBs and not linemen. If we get these guys into the secondary, it's going to make for some long afternoon for the opponent. Again, when you surround yourself with people like this it's a step in the right direction.
Duce Staley Press Conference
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