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mesaSteeler
01-30-2009, 06:59 PM
http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/30/1s30super23348-steelers-holmes-traces-speed-humble/
Steelers' Holmes traces speed to humble, rabbit-chasing roots
By Kevin Acee
Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. January 30, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. — When Santonio Holmes is darting around the grass of Raymond James Stadium on Sunday as the Steelers' big-play receiver or punt returner, few people who see him might know where that crazy zigzag speed came from.

Not too far from here, where the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals will play in Super Bowl XLIII, there is a town in the midst of a swamp where the children catch rabbits in the muck and mud.

Catch them by hand.

At 7, 8 years old, the kids chase the rabbits and grab them and club them with a sugar cane stalk. Then they put the rabbits in a backpack. When they have enough rabbits, up to 20 for a day's work, the kids sell them for $3 apiece. The coveted cottontail, especially good for soup, can fetch $5.

“We'd punch them in the head, chop them in the back of their neck to kill them instantly,” Holmes said yesterday. “We had no remorse for those rabbits. We were hunting, just like people out there surviving.”

In the rich soil of Belle Glade, Fla., that tiny town near Lake Okeechobee where Holmes is from, they grow sugar and raise football players.

Holmes' alma mater, Glades Central, with an enrollment of less than 1,500, has produced more than two dozen NFL players, including three currently in the league – Holmes, Fred Taylor (Jacksonville) and Ray McDonald (San Francisco).

It's no coincidence.

“We did it because it helped us get money,” Holmes said. “Now people are saying these guys are really fast because they chased rabbits. I never thought about it. But running in the muck and the soil that is down there, it's not like a football field. You have divots all over the ground you have to maneuver through. I think it strengthened my legs.”

Belle Glade is steeped in poverty, not all that pleasant a place to live.

In the early 1980s, it had the highest rate of AIDS infection in the country. As recently as 2003, it had the second-highest violent crime rate in the United States. More than a quarter of the town's families live below the poverty line.

“We don't have a Wal-Mart, no Target, maybe two grocery stores, no movie theaters, no mall,” Holmes said. “There is nothing to do. All you're going to do is chase rabbits, go to school and play football, or you're going to stand on the corner and sell drugs.”

Turns out, Holmes did all of the above.

The 24-year-old chose this week, with the world's assembled media chronicling his words, to reveal he sold drugs for a time as a kid.

“I'm on a stage now where everyone is watching,” Holmes said. “Everyone wants to know why I am here, what I had to overcome to get here. It was the right time to do it.”

Holmes said he sold drugs to make extra money for shoes and clothes. He said he stopped after about a year.

“I just felt like that wasn't what I wanted to do,” Holmes said. “I wanted to play football. I don't want to end up like a lot of my friends, in jail, standing on the corner, not going to school.”

Holmes has not been without incident since being the Steelers' first-round pick in 2006, including an arrest on suspicion of assault in 2006 and marijuana possession in October.

“Everybody that knows me knows I have never done drugs,” Holmes said yesterday. “I have never failed a drug test. I just happened to have it in my vehicle at the time. Someone else was driving it.”

On the field, he continues to be a big-play threat with speed and moves that are rare even among NFL receivers.

“He's a phenomenal football player,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “He makes plays when they're not there. When I start scrambling, he just gets open. He's deceptively fast.”

Holmes, whom the Steelers held out of the game after his arrest, caught 55 passes for 821 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season, ranking second on the team behind Hines Ward in all three.

Holmes has made two of the biggest plays in the postseason for the Steelers. His 67-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chargers changed the tenor of that game in the first half, and his 65-yard catch and run for a touchdown gave the Steelers a 13-0 lead in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens.

“The two big plays I've made, the touchdowns in both games, have really sparked this team,” he said. “That's what the guys look for. I want to be that guy to help spark this team.”

Still, he is certainly not the spotlight receiver in this Super Bowl – not with Ward on his team and Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston on the Cardinals.

“Where do I fit?” Holmes said with a smile. “I'm probably one of the top five receivers on the field.”

But the only who has ever caught a rabbit.

Kevin Acee: (619) 293-1857; kevin.acee@uniontrib.com

markymarc
01-30-2009, 10:41 PM
DCR is going to have his hands full with Holmes on Sunday. I really believe Holmes will continue his big plays in the playoffs come Sunday.

Steelman16
01-31-2009, 11:10 AM
Props for an original article that I haven't heard 500 times already.

Santonio The Rabbit Chaser Holmes :chuckle:

GBMelBlount
01-31-2009, 11:17 AM
“We'd punch them in the head, chop them in the back of their neck to kill them instantly,” Holmes said yesterday. “We had no remorse for those rabbits. We were hunting, just like people out there surviving.”

Substitute "people" for "rabbits" and this could have been a Ravens quote. :chuckle:

steelpinstripe72
01-31-2009, 11:18 AM
I knew about this last week, lol...can't believe it turned up here. My friend does the the Thurman Thomas sports training hour on WGR550 in Buffalo, and they were discussing speed training last week. And totally talking about this. I was just like, "Rabbits? Really??"

SteelersinCA
01-31-2009, 11:31 AM
So with DCR on Holmes, who is going to cover Washington and Sweed? Cardinals fans seem to think we cant stretch the field...go on and believe it ladies.

AllD
01-31-2009, 11:58 AM
They are actually wild hares, but it doesn't matter. A little closer to the coast and the story would be different with land crabs.

TheSteelCurtain
01-31-2009, 12:43 PM
So with DCR on Holmes, who is going to cover Washington and Sweed? Cardinals fans seem to think we cant stretch the field...go on and believe it ladies.

We hear about how great this cardinals offense is. And im just as sick as everyone with crunching stats. Does anyone know how many more points the cardinals put up the playoffs than the steelers.



1.7 If ben has a good game our offense can shred this team. If we get the run going to boot it could be a long long day for cardinals defenders. So called High Powered offenses dont fair so well when they only get to touch the ball 1 or 2 times in a quarter.

steelwall
01-31-2009, 12:57 PM
1.7 If ben has a good game our offense can shred this team. If we get the run going to boot it could be a long long day for cardinals defenders. So called High Powered offenses dont fair so well when they only get to touch the ball 1 or 2 times in a quarter.

Exactly how we will win it.:thumbsup:

TheSteelCurtain
01-31-2009, 01:07 PM
Exactly how we will win it.:thumbsup:

I feel our defense will play great. But the story of the day could be our offense.
The cardinals have no depth on either side of the ball. The steelers hit hard, people are gonna get stingers, knocked silly, tired, cramps and will have to come out. This happens for every team in every game and the cardinals have no depth on defense at all. Travis Laboy is only probable and Antonio Smith is questionable i think they will play but gonna need spelled.