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Old 02-17-2009, 06:35 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default City native Essex returns home

City native Essex returns home
LaMond Pope
The Journal Gazette
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette

Former Harding and current Pittsburgh Steelers player Trai Essex shows his 2006 Super Bowl ring to students from Irwin Elementary on Monday at the City-County Building.

Trai Essex took a couple of questions from the Irwin Elementary School students participating in the Study Connection program before he had one himself.

“Anyone want to see my Super Bowl ring?” the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman asked.

The students raised their hands, then 14 of them raced to the front of the cafeteria in the basement of the City-County Building and gathered around the Harding graduate. The ring was from the 2005 championship season. Essex earned a second ring Feb. 1 when the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII.

“I was a rookie so I was taken aback by everything the first time,” Essex said. “This time, I felt that I had more to do with it. I was an integral part as far as our team is concerned in helping us get there. They are both great experiences. They are different, but they are both great. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

As the group marveled at the ring, the questions continued. Most dealt with the importance of an education.

“It means a great deal to me,” he said, pointing out that he made the honor roll from the first to 12th grade. “In my household, education is always No. 1. I couldn’t play sports if I didn’t have the grades.

“It means a great deal for me to come back to these kids while they are impressionable and not set in their ways to soak some of this in and take it to heart. It was the standard in our household. It was the norm. It wasn’t anything special. It was what I was supposed to do.”

Essex majored in African-American studies at Northwestern.

The 6-foot-4, 324-pound tackle was just as confident his team would rally to win this year’s title. Pittsburgh’s go-ahead score came on a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds remaining.

“It was magnified because of the game, but I knew Ben was going to do that,” Essex said. “I’ve never doubted my quarterback for one minute and Santonio did a great job of pulling it in. Everyone clicked when we needed it the most.”

The four-year veteran appeared in seven games this season.

“It’s a blessing. I can’t ask for anything more,” Essex said. “And to have a state championship in basketball too (as a senior in 2001), I’ve been on the top in two prestigious stages; basketball in Indiana and football in the world. I don’t take it for granted at all. It’s not going to stop me from working harder and keep on stacking up the rings.”
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:39 AM   #2
A Son of Martha

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Default Re: City native Essex returns home

Fort Wayne Native Essex May Get New NFL Home
By Dean Pantazi

Story Published: Feb 16, 2009 at 11:51 PM EST

(Fort Wayne) - Harding grad Trai Essex is thrilled with two Super Bowl titles as a four year veteran with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But that won't stop the offensive lineman from seeking a team where he can get more playing time.

Essex's agent has already received a contract offer from the Steelers for the free agent lineman, but Essex said Monday prior to speaking to school kids with the Fort Wayne Community School Study Connection program that if he has to go somewhere else to get to play more, he will,

For more on this story click on the video icon above.

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