View Full Version : Former Steeler gives talk in Lewisburg

03-08-2009, 10:24 AM
Former Steeler gives talk in Lewisburg

By Brett R. Crossley
For The Daily Item

LEWISBURG -- Students at Lewisburg Area High School got a break Thursday from the normal routine of classes as they were greeted by a former member of the most feared defense of the 1970s, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Andy Russell. One of the original members of the feared "Steel Curtain" defense, Russell volunteered some of his time to talk to Lewisburg students about the values of hard work.

Russell, 67, who played eleven years in the NFL, all of which were with the Steelers, talked to the students about achieving goals and being driven. Russell broke his presentation into three different categories; the journey, thinking big and having a dream, and finally hard work. Russell used stories from his childhood with his parents teaching him the importance of being self reliant, to life-changing moments in college, and of course, his time with the beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.

Russell played in and won two Super Bowls, was selected to seven Pro Bowls, and was named one of the NFL's top 300 players of all-time. Russell was also named to the 1970s all-pro team and was named the Steelers MVP in 1971. Throughout his career, Russell embodied the blue-collar, tough-man approach made famous by the Steelers and their surrounding city.

"My parents were driven to teach me to be self-reliant," said Russell, "When I was 15 they wanted me to go to Europe and bike from Glasgow, Scotland, where my father was born, to Naples, Italy. If you know your map, that's a long way. They told me I would have to sleep in hay stacks and would never get to go to any restaurants, but I would learn good things from my journey."

Russell used the story from his childhood to describe the journey segment of the presentation. At age 15, Russell was sent to Europe with a friend to complete the two-month long journey by bike. His parents believed it would help give him the experience of having to fend for himself in an unfamiliar world.

Before leaving, Russell said he inquired about the money for his trip and his father replied, "You get a $150."

Russell then explained how he asked him what happens when he runs out of money and his father replied, "get a job."

Russell followed that question up with one last question, "What if there are no jobs?" and his father replied, "Then you will starve."

Needless to say, Russell and his friend made it home without starving. Russell explained how the journey taught him about the value of money and survival. He then quoted his former coach, Steelers coaching legend Chuck Noll, who said, "Life is a journey and you never arrive.'"

In his presentation, Russell said of the advice, "That's good; you don't ever want to arrive. You want to continue to face challenges and seek out risks and excitement. Don't ever shy away from things that are difficult."

Russell used the quote from Noll to transition into the next part of the presentation where he talked about thinking big and setting a dream for yourself.

Russell talked about his time at the University of Missouri, and how a friend of his got him to use his competitive nature in the classroom.

Russell told a story about how when playing ping-pong with a fraternity brother, that brother helped him realized he could use his competitive spirit to his advantage in the classroom.

"My friend told me I should try and go against other members of the fraternity," Russell said. "My friend and I then competed in some economics courses we had."

Russell explained how the drive of everyone in the fraternity became stronger because of the challenge. "Each member became more driven."