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Tim Worley, Steelers Running Back, 1989-1993

October 12, 2011
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Tim Worley – Former Steeler, (June 29,  2011):

First, can you tell readers more about your motivational speaking, consulting and leadership practice – who you work with and what exactly you do in this regard?  

We are a for-profit organization.  We’ve been up and running for nearly two years.  We work with businesses, churches, formal events, sporting events, youth, NCAA programs…any and everybody in secular and non-secular venues who need guidance and leadership in various areas.  

But we don’t just show up and speak.  We have custom-designed programs that are specifically tailored to each audience, group or individual.  Our purpose is to fulfill their needs.

How did you choose this profession?  

I didn’t choose it…it chose me!  Before my wife and I started this business, I had been speaking professionally for quite a few years after my football career was over.  It was one of those gifts that I had on the inside that had to be developed by the good Lord Himself.  

Once football was over for me, I went through years and years of trying to find my way and trying to find that other thing in me besides sports and being an athlete.  I found out later that I had a gift for gab!  God took that gift of gab and turned it into a new career and a ministry.

On the Steelers – when you were first drafted, what were your thoughts on going to the Steelers so high in ’89 – was this the team and city you were really excited to play for?  

I was very excited.  It was like a dream come true.  Before the Steelers ever considered drafting me, they were always my favorite team  …they’re my Mom’s favorite team, too!  

So yes, it was a dream come true.  Pittsburgh was always a city I wanted to visit because of the Steelers, and at the time I wanted to finish my career there.  

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.  

You had a promising first season – what happened going into your second season in terms of your on-field performance?  

First of all, coming into the Steelers as a first-round pick, I felt a lot of pressure to be somewhat of a ‘savior’ and turn the program around.  

I missed most of training camp my rookie year, so I was behind and had to play catch-up by the time I came in.  Early on in the 1989 season I made a lot of mistakes because I was playing catch-up.  

Once I got my feet under me that first year, it gave me some confidence and I was able to adapt on the field  to the speed of the game and make that transition from college to NFL football.  

If you notice, I said that I was able to adapt to the speed in the NFL, but coming into that second season my challenges on the field were directly related to my failure to adjust to life off the field.  I made many mistakes off the field which led to under-performance on the field.  

They are directly related.

How difficult was the trade to Chicago for you?  

Actually, during the 1993 season, I had already asked Coach Cowher to help me find another team that was looking for a running back.  My mind was about looking for another team, but my heart was still in Pittsburgh and I wanted to play for the Steelers.  

My mind led me to want to leave because I wasn’t playing that much.  Barry Foster was doing his thing and, after my 1992 suspension, I was in a position of needing to be humble and taking the back seat so I could earn my way back.  But I didn’t know how to do that.  I was busy complaining while sitting on the bench in a very privileged position.  

You’ve been open about your off-field issues during and after your playing days. What do you think brought those on – was part of it the pressure of the NFL game….was there more?  

Where I am today in my life, I am a much wiser man.  I’m stronger.  I’m older.  And I have a more complete understanding of who I am in Christ and the roles and the position that a man is supposed to take in this world.  

I found out much later after my career was over that not only are there pressures with performing, but also pressures associated with the definition of being ‘a man.’  During my playing years, I was a very passive person.   I was a people-pleaser.  I didn’t know how to say ‘no.’  A lot of people around me abused my trust in them.  

So, not only did I have to worry about performing on the field, but I also had to worry about things going right off the field.  That was what drove me into that dark place of drugs and alcohol.  I learned I had been suffering from depression for a long time.  But, I must say, in all this I have never blamed anyone else or pointed the finger at anyone else.  I take full responsibility for all the choices I made — as a professional athlete and as a man.

How were you able to turn things around? Many are never able to do so – what made it possible for you to?  

First of all, I surrendered my life to Christ.  I began to confront the areas in my life that were trying to kill me.  God began to put people in my life who truly cared for Tim Worley the man, not Tim Worley the athlete who could do things for them.  God put people in my life who first love Him, then love me for me.  

I began to find joy in my life again.  God delivered me from alcohol abuse.  God delivered me from cocaine abuse.  God delivered me from PEOPLE who didn’t belong.  That’s when the healing process began.  

Then, I gained enough strength through God’s grace and mercy to take responsibility for my choices.  

That’s why Worley Global Enterprises exists — because I’ve been to hell and back, and God is using my journey to help other people.  

Who were some of the more memorable guys you played with and for – and what made them so?  

Playing for Chuck Noll was just awesome.  It was a dream because he saw the potential in me.  I went through a period of time where I was very disappointed in myself because I felt I had disappointed him.  

He taught me a lot.  Playing for Bill Cowher was cool too, even though I only spent less than half a season with him.  Bill Cowher was great because he could just relate.  I could go to him and talk to him man-to-man.  

As far as players  and teammates, some of my buddies were Merril Hoge, Barry Foster, Warren Williams, Delton Hall, Greg Lloyd, Thomas Everett, Carnell Lake, Dwight Stone, Tim Johnson, Bubby Brister and Dermontti Dawson.  These are all guys I felt I had a connection with — we had fun on and off the field together. I felt comfortable with these guys.

Do you follow the game today – and the Steelers specifically?  

Yes, I follow the game and the Steelers are still my favorite team.  I’m just now getting over the last Superbowl loss.  Lol.  

What are your thoughts on the way the NFL/game has changed?  

I believe the game is slowly being destroyed today because of the easy access the general public has to what used to be team-only business.  Football is a team sport, and without every position working, that machine doesn’t function right.  Unfortunately, there are some individuals who are out for themselves.  

The pure raw tradition has left.  It has become too selfish.  

I still believe there are some guys out there playing today who play just for the love of the game.  I also believe there are others who have the salary as their primary reason for playing.  The love of the game has been tainted.

Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates? If so, who?  

Yes, I keep in touch with former teammates.  Mostly from the University of Georgia.

What one piece of advice would you give rookies today?  

First of all, put God first in everything.  It is God and God alone who gives you the power and gifts to do what you do.  The next advice I would give is to keep your head on a swivel!  That means, know who’s around you because everyone who’s around you is not for you.  Friendships must be earned.  Just because you’re accepted, doesn’t mean you belong.  

The last piece of advice I would give is, take advantage of the opportunity being given to you, and be wise with your money.  

Any other thoughts for readers?  

First, I want to thank you Ron for the interview.  I appreciate you taking the time.  Next, to secure my company for a speaking engagement, leadership consulting or mentoring,  visit www.WorleyGlobalEnterprises.com.  Hurry…the calendar fills up fast!

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