View Full Version : Home-grown path to the Super Bowl

01-31-2011, 07:18 AM
Home-grown path to the Super Bowl
By Jerry DiPaola
Monday, January 31, 2011

Once a Steeler, now a Steeler.

When Ryan Mundy was a kid playing in the West Pittsburgh football program, his team was called the Steelers.

He remembers traveling with teammates to Three Rivers Stadium to solicit donations from fans before the real Steelers' games.

A curious and ambitious young man, Mundy's eyes kept wandering to the parking lot and players' entrance.

"I used to see Greg Lloyd, Kordell Stewart, Carnell Lake and Rod Woodson, all those guys, and my dad (Greg) kept telling me, 'One day you are going to go in that entrance.'

"So, it's kind of ironic how things turned out for me."

Today, as a reserve safety and special teams player for the professional Steelers, Mundy will play in Super Bowl XLV with his hometown team Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. Mundy and backup quarterback Charlie Batch of Steel Valley are the only WPIAL products playing in the game.

Mundy, 25, who started two games at strong safety this season when All-Pro Troy Polamalu was injured, has played on championship teams at every level of football, including West Pittsburgh.

His Woodland Hills High School teams lost only three games in three seasons, reaching the WPIAL championship three times and winning titles during his junior and senior seasons.

In college, he attended Michigan and later West Virginia to attain a Master's in sports administration, and he won Big Ten and Big East championships. Two years ago, he was a sixth-round draft choice of the Steelers and spent part of the season on the practice squad prior to the victory against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

"I have been very blessed," he said.

Mundy's ties to Woodland Hills remain strong.

Coach George Novak, whose program had more players in the NFL this season (seven) than any high school in the nation, often asks graduates to speak to his players. Mundy, who is from the Eastmont section of Wilkins, always obliges, sometimes popping in unannounced.

"(The Woodland Hills program) is sort of like a microcosm of what the Steelers mean to Pittsburgh," Mundy said. "When I was in high school, Friday nights you couldn't find a soul walking the streets in Turtle Creek or Braddock or Rankin because everybody was at the stadium."

Batch, 36, was the Steelers' fourth-string quarterback in training camp and might have been released had the NFL not suspended Ben Roethlisberger for four games at the start of the season. In fact, Batch helped lead the team to 3-1 start, playing in three games and starting two after injuries to Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon.

"Nobody in this locker room, in this building, believed one person was bigger than the team," he said.

Batch is signed through 2011 and hopes to return for his 14th season and 10th in Pittsburgh.

Batch will be the Steelers' third-team quarterback against the Packers, but his responsibilities go beyond the field. He has been the team's union representative the past six years, a job that never has been more important than it is now.

Without a new collective bargaining agreement, owners have indicated they will lock out players March 5.

"People laughed at me when I started talking about it two years ago," Batch said. "And here we are less than 40 days away."

Jerry DiPaola can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

Read more: Home-grown path to the Super Bowl - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/print_720575.html#ixzz1CcAmTzuI