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Old 01-16-2009, 04:44 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Tiny hamlet of Dalton a part of Steelers Nation

Tiny hamlet of Dalton a part of Steelers Nation
http://www.eveningtribune.com/sports...teelers-Nation
By Derrick Balinsky
The Evening Tribune
Fri Jan 16, 2009, 11:20 AM EST
Story Tools: Email This Email This | Print This Print This
Dalton, N.Y. -

Jim Bailey has been and probably always will be a Buffalo Bills fan. But Bailey’s NFL allegiances run a little deeper than the AFC East, spilling over into the AFC North where his grandson Patrick Bailey is a rookie linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I’ll always be a Bills fan, but I’m finally glad I’ve got another team to fall back on,” said the Dalton native, who will be traveling to Pittsburgh with his wife Donna for Sunday’s AFC Championship game pitting the Steelers against their bitter rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, at 6:30 p.m. “At heart, I’m still a Bills’ fan, but It seems good to have somebody who wins. I think the problem with (Ralph) Wilson is that he’s satisfied with mediocrity; he doesn’t want to spend the money that some of the other owners in the NFL are. So I guess I’m still a Bills fan, but I’m definitely a Steelers fan now.”

Patrick Bailey visits his grandparents in the hamlet at the southwestern corner of Livingston County every Christmas. This year, however, he had a prior obligation. The Duke University graduate and his Pittsburgh Steelers were a little busy preparing for a Week 17 matchup with the Cleveland Browns, a contest the Steelers ended up winning, 31-0.

“He’s our No. 1 grandson,” Donna Bailey said. “All of our grandkids have always been a big part of our lives. Both of Patrick’s parents have had careers in the military so we kind of took care of them a little bit when they were younger. Usually all of the family visits at Christmas time, but this year was the first time Patrick didn’t make it.

“Patrick is just a wonderful Christian boy to begin with,” Donna continued. We’ve never had any trouble with him or his brothers. When they were little and they would come to our house, Patrick would always say, ‘We’re at Grandma’s house and we have rules.’ I would always say, ‘Yes Patrick you do.’”

Bailey, an undrafted rookie who spent the first two games of the season on the Steelers’ practice squad, has played in 12 games this season. He has made a total of 16 tackles, including one during last week’s 35-24 win over the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round of the playoffs.

At the end of the regular season, Bailey was named the Steelers’ Rookie of the Year — an honor which comes with the presentation of the Joe Greene Great Performance Award. His most important playing accomplishment may be the fact that he earned a spot on the 53-man roster. Bailey was released twice by the team this year. He not only stuck with the team, but became one of its best special teams players and made the ROY unanimous for Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association.

As a senior at Duke, Patrick Bailey recorded 154 tackles in 30 games, including 17.5 for a loss and four quarterback sacks. He also maintained a 3.230 cumulative grade point average going into his final year, majoring in electrical and computer engineering. Prior to his playing days as Blue Devil, he was a two-year letterman at Alamo Heights, which posted a 13-2 record in 2003, advancing to the state playoff semifinals. The current NFLer earned First Team All-District honors as a tight end, defensive end and punter. As a senior he recorded 126 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and six sacks, while catching 26 passes for three touchdowns. He also ran track and field and was a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.

“When Patrick was in the seventh grade he told his father, ‘Dad, some day I’m going to play in college,’” Donna Bailey said. “His father just kind of laughed it off. He didn’t think that a seventh-grader could really be serious about going to college and playing football.”

“He played junior soccer and all that stuff,” Jim Bailey said. “But in the seventh grade he decided he was going to play I-A football. And when he was a freshman he was only weighing 128 pounds. He’s certainly spent a lot of time in the weight room. He’s definitely put the time and hard work into what he’s accomplished.

“Watching him playing in the NFL is something I never would have expected,” Jim Bailey continued. “I knew he was good, but how good? You never know. But he’s really got the heart. That’s the big thing — he never quits on the play. I think he’s happy with what he’s done. After college he told us that he’s already lived his dream. He said that if things turn out alright, they turn out alright. If they don’t, they don’t. He’s content with what he had already done.”

Jim Bailey expects a big weekend for his grandson’s Steelers and their fans.

“He gets us some seats and we’ll be going to the game this weekend,” he said. “And he’s told us he can get us some for the Super Bowl if we want, too. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t make it. It appears that the offense is starting to click. But their defense, that’s what has carried them all year — defense and special teams.”

Obviously an unbiased opinion, considering Patrick has been a pretty big part of both.
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