Erric Pegram, Steelers Running Back, 1995-1997
First, can you tell readers about HeadBlade shaving products and what your role is with the company? What about the organization made you like this fit so much?
I’m just a Headblader like anyone else, my role is strictly that. Todd and I go way back when he first started the company and I’ve been on board ever since
The product is great and the owner is a cool dude, I love helping good people, period.
Is this something you were involved in while playing football? If not, how did you get started with them?
No I was involved after my NFL career, I really don’t remember how we hooked up, strange but after thousands of hits up side the head, what do you expect?
We recently spoke to Bam Morris about the trappings of the NFL life and the recovery from those resulting issues. How did you avoid those issues and how did you prepare for life after football?
Everything in life is choices and he chose that. Hell, he’s the one that showed me around Pittsburgh and not in a million years would I have figured he was doing the things he was doing. He really is a good dude and I enjoyed playing with him but one thing had nothing to do with the other. I avoided those choices by not making them, I realized I was in the NFL and it was a privilege to be doing something I loved and getting paid well to do it, it’s no different being a high paid actor, we’re all entertainers but of course my job is much more physical.
What made Pittsburgh your free agency destination – what sold you on the team and how were you “recruited”?
When I was a free agent that year(1995), I told the Green bay Packers I would take less money to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers and they asked me why and I told them because if I signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers we would go to the Superbowl and we did. The previous year they lost in the AFC Championship 2 San Diego Chargers and in my opinion they should have won the game. Remember, I was the first scat back to have a major roll at running back in the Steelers franchise history and I feel if Bill Cohwer had kept me around, we would have gone back sooner than ten years later, could you imagine me and Jerome Bettis and that Steelers offensive line, scary.
What players and coaches helped you most as you got acclimated to with team – how did they do so?
I’d have to say Coach Hoak inspired me very much, it wasn’t what he said but it was what he didn’t say, the only time he’d congratulate you was after a win, I never saw him after a loss and he was right, why say what a good job you did after you just got your ass kicked. It made sense to me, like Lombardi said,” Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, and I dig that.
You ask any player what he misses about the game, as many personal friends as you have on the team, you miss the team, even people you didn’t care for as much, they were still part of the trip. We used to vote on a team offensive and defensive MVP which I always thought was silly because this is a team sport and nobody experienced success without the team helping and that’s what I wrote in my vote. Coach Cowher read it in front of the team and I was moved that he did that.
How was the team different from your prior NFL team experiences – and how did you adjust?
When I was with the Atlanta Falcons I thought that was the NFL, selfish players, no team concept and me, me, me attitude but when I walked in 2 Three rivers stadium in 1995 and I saw those four Super Bowls trophies encased in glass, I knew right away this was different. Adjustment? It’s not that hard to adjust to something special, it was like making the team all over again but this time it feels right.
How did you and Bam approach sharing carries? Were you competitive and what drove the decision on who played when?
It really wasn’t our decision, I came in knowing he’d be the starter because he’d had such a good year the previous year it didn’t matter what I did in camp, they were going to start Bam in front of me but what I also knew was I’d get my shot sooner than later.
I told my father I’d have the starting job by week five because I was going to out work Bam and I could tell by his approach and his preparation as a pro football player that he was not there yet and on week five as I predicted I was starting running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and I led them in rushing 2 Super Bowl XXX (813 yards). Bill Cowher told me in his office that if I wasn’t on the team we would not have gone to the Super Bowl that year and that was very flattering and I appreciate him saying that.
What players an memories stood out most to you from your Steelers years and why?
Unquestionably the AFC Championship, playing in the Super Bowl and being a thousand yard rusher was cool but the only thing that would top that is going 2 the moon and I’m afraid of heights. One other memory comes to mind is my daughter Taylor was born at halftime and my father forever called her halftime Taylor.
There were so many players who inspired me Dermontti Dawson because he was so up-beat even when we were struggling, Yancy Thigpen, best hands on the team and for stealing my running shoes and giving me athletes feet, Kordell Stewart and me taking him under my wing, Charles Johnson who was so cool as a person and a hell of a competitor, Ernie Mills’ Smile, Fast Freddie McAfee and our endless joking on one another, Gregg Lloyd, one mean SOB and I enjoyed watching him work, Kevin Green’s long hair and his relentless off-the-corner-rush, the preacher, Levon Kirkland “the run stopper” and Big Play Ray Seals, giving his all even with a torn rotator cuff. It’s those things that makes the trip worth wild and I love them all.
What coaches and players helped you most over your career – and how so?
Jerry Glanville gave me my shot and when I was a rookie I don’t think I could have played for anyone else in the NFL at that time because I was so wild and crazy so he understood me because he was also wild and crazy. Coach Hoak, as I mentioned before, was a huge influence on me and so was Bill Cowher. We didn’t see eye to eye on everything but at the end of the day he was a players coach and very inspirational to me.
What do you think of today’s NFL? Would you have liked to play more by today’s rules?
The NFL hasn’t changed much from when I was playing, still big, still fast but from a business and health perspective, It’s much better for players. The only rule I would get rid of is the one that cost Calvin Johnson his touch down against Detroit last year, that was brutal.
Any last thoughts for readers?
Its been real and I enjoyed every moment of my NFL career but I’m enjoying being a father and raising my daughters Taylor (15), Nadia(8), and Natalia(2), I have one in college (SMU) Alex(21) but she stopped listening to Poppa Bear a long time ago, now she uses me to no end, is there a law against this? Kids. Don’t forget my wife Michelle, I call her my rock because she holds us together.