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10-17-2009, 09:54 AM
Steelers Special Section

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs Willie Gay, Ike Taylor, and Ryan Clark share their pre-game secrets.

Edited by Katie Mavrich | Photography by Megan Wylie

Q & A with Willie Gay

WHIRL: How do you prepare for a game?
Gay: There’s a song called “Closer” by Goapele. I listen to that song just to mellow me out. The guys will ask, “Why do you listen to that? It gets you down.” It’s not getting me down, it’s just enjoying my time, you know, the blessings that God gave me. Just being out here. So I relax, just thinking of all the good things that happened in the sport and just in life. And then before I go out to play, I throw back on some crunk music so I can get back up.

WHIRL: What is the best thing about being a Pittsburgh Steeler?
Gay: The camaraderie of the players. Even when I first got here, everybody welcomed me with open arms. There weren’t “veterans.” So, once I saw that, I was like, man this is a home away from home. — K.M.

Q & A with Ike Taylor

WHIRL: What is your game-day ritual?
Taylor: I listen to Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Jay-Z, Scarface. I take two EmergenC packs — I take them every day. Then I take two Advils, drink a Gatorade and water, and some coffee, and I’m good to go.

WHIRL: On television coverage of NFL games, when they profile you, you’re famous for saying “Ike Taylor, Swaggin’” instead of your college, Louisiana-Lafayette. Why do you do that?
Taylor: My college is still mad at me about that; I apologize, but hey. Swaggin’ is about having confidence in yourself. It ain’t about being profanityfilterprofanityfilterprofanityfilterprofa nityfiltery or being arrogant, it’s just being sure of yourself. You’ve got to have some sort of swag to be successful. I’ve never seen a successful person without any swag. — L.H.

Q & A with Ryan Clark

WHIRL: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Clark: Oh yeah. Troy [Polamalu] and I, we get to the field probably about five hours before the game. I set up all my supplements. I cut my towel and put it on my pants. I lay all my clothes out first so I can see what I’m going to have to wear. Then, I get in the hot tub — I take two showers before every game because you gotta, you know, wash the old dirt off, and then you gotta wash the warm-up dirt off. You know what I’m saying? I just want fresh game dirt [he laughs].

WHIRL: What do you love most about Pittsburgh?
Clark: The fans, without question. They’re the best fans in the NFL. They travel with us. There are times when we have road games, and we have more fans than the team we’re playing. — N.B.

10-17-2009, 03:12 PM
I love Ike Taylor's swagging introduction for prime time games. Even the announcers get a kick out of it.