PITTSBURGH – It wasn't like Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel hit the lottery or anything this spring. But the 27-year-old Keisel did find himself in a new tax bracket.
Keisel signed a four-year, $13.1-million deal to stay with the
Steelers this spring that
included a $3.29-million signing bonus.
The flannel-wearing, pickup-driving Keisel has taken some kidding
from his teammates,
hearing such things as "Big Money" and "New Money," but it's not as
if he hasn't paid his
dues in working his way up from a former seventh-round draft pick to
Just don't expect Keisel to now start taking anything for granted.
"It's way different," said Keisel of his first mini-camp and
voluntary workouts as a starter.
"When you're a backup, you're always kind of on the backburner.
You're always watching
the guy in front of you and trying to watch what he does and trying
to learn from what he
does. Now I'm trying to set an example and show what's expected."
It's something he learned watching Aaron Smith and Kimo von Oelhoffen
for the previous
Now, he replaces von Oelhoffen in the starting lineup and takes on
some of that role as a
teacher for the team's younger players.
He doesn't mind. In fact, he's embraced the idea.
"Kimo's a stud," said Keisel. "He taught me a lot about this position
and this game and
about how to play defensive line here and I really appreciate him."
That's why it was difficult for both men when the Steelers were
negotiating with both
during this offseason. Von Oelhoffen signed with the New York Jets
and seemingly minutes
later, the Steelers announced they had agreed to a deal with Keisel.
"I don't know what they were offering Kimo, but I talked to him that day,
we were talking back
and forth to see what was going on," Keisel said. "He called me and
said, "Hey man, I'm
going to be a Jet." I kind of had an idea that was going to happen."
That ended what was an extremely tough time for Keisel.
"It was really stressful up to that point because I wanted to stay
here, but you just didn't
know with the collective bargaining agreement the way it was and the
way they kept on
pushing things back," he said. "It was making it that much worse.
negotiator) Omar (Khan) called me and we got on a conference call and
we all came to
agreement on this thing, I hung up the phone and I was just like,
‘Man, I can't believe it.
This is what I worked so hard for, just to get this opportunity. Now
it's time to get to work
and prove it.'"
Just don't expect anything too flashy from the always humble Keisel.
In fact, he hasn't even really spent much of his new-found wealth
"I've done some remodeling on my house, but I haven't done anything
which is pretty boring," Keisel said. "I may go out and get a new
ride or something like
that, well see."
And the league is going to see why the Steelers felt so comfortable
giving a player who has
never before started an NFL game more than $13 million.
"There's a little more pressure, but that's what this game is about,"
Keisel said. "There's
pressure every time you step on the field, even with special teams.
If you don't do your
job, it's going to show up on tape and it's going to show up on the
field. So there's
pressure every time. We're used to playing with pressure."
Courtesy of the Observer-Reporter
Firing up the Deisel
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