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Verron Haynes, Steelers Running Back, 2002-2007

November 8, 2011
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Verron Haynes:

 

 

 

 

 

First, can you tell readers about your foundation and your current work for breast cancer research?

I have merged with various non-profits benefiting causes, including Breast Cancer and Autism. I sit on the Board of Directors for Turning Point Atlanta in addition to The Verron Haynes Foundation. I try to devote my celebrity and volunteer my time for such a vital cause. With one in every eight women being diagnosed, this is a condition that is hitting close to the homes and hearts of many.

It is more than the diagnosed patient who suffers because Cancer holds meaning beyond the term. It is “cancerous” and affects the family, children, mothers and careers. At the tender age of twenty-six, my cousin who was like a sister to me, lost her tragic battle against breast cancer. While I have done extensive work during my time in the NFL, collaborating with the Steelers and Atlanta Falcons, being away from the game has afforded me the chance to devote more of my personal time. With the assistance of a newly formed non-profit team, I am eager to utilize my leisure for a purpose.

It is important to Educate all individuals on the statistics and precautions available. Cancer is a beast, especially Breast Cancer. In 2011 alone, over 230,000 cases of breast cancer were reported. Breast Cancer does not discriminate against age, race or sex, as two thousand cases of male diagnosis were found this year. While I am proud and humbled by the Championship and athletic accomplishments during my career in the NFL, it is my accomplishments off the field where I hope to make a difference.

How can readers help your foundation?

As I plan special events and benefits, volunteers are always appreciated. Anyone interested in donating in a monetary sense or time can contact my coordinator through my website. www.verronhaynes.com

You came to the states at the age of 7 from Trinidad and Tobago – how do you think your background influenced your drive to give back to others?

My father instilled in me that nothing comes easy. I was always taught that you have to work harder than the next man, work while others sleep. I saw the effort he put into his work and it stuck with me from a young age.

Buggy also was very straight forward with me that pro careers, especially football, are short so a backup plan and Education is important. I try to invoke the same drive, compassion and emphasis when giving back when I talk to the youth or even rookies. In Trinidad, something as simple to an American as hot water is considered a luxury. When you grow up in lower class and less fortunate setting, it is a humbling upbringing that makes you want to help others achieve their dreams.

I want the youth to aspire for more than monetary gain, a degree and a meaningful career is more fulfilling than any check. 
 
Your father played soccer for the Trinidad and Tobago national team. How did you wind up choosing football over soccer?

Although I played as a goalie in Soccer for several years from childhood leading up to high school; an interesting fact people do not know is that I aspired to play basketball. Living in New York, we had blacktops and it was a daily activity to play basketball with friends. I also played for the private school I attended in Mt. Vernon, New York. I believed my father passed along his athleticism and genes over to me. My Mother moved the family to Atlanta for a more suburban lifestyle, which is when I was offered the opportunity to play football.

It was all God and timing. I was among very few people who were able to start playing a sport at seventeen and perform well enough to be recruited and receive a College Football Scholarship. I always say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Any funny rookie “hazing” stories you had to go through – or that you put other rookies through?

Our “hazing” is somewhat a secret like fraternities. We wouldn’t want the rookies to be prepared for what they have coming. (LOL) I can share one of our traditions for rookies, which I had to endure and later put other guys through.  Each season the Steelers would have a “Rookie Dinner” where we would take the newbies to a top shelf and expensive restaurant. They come thinking the dinner is in their honor and that us Veterans are there to treat them.

Little do they know that after everyone ordered Prime Rib and the best champagne…..they joke is on them when they are left to pay the generous tab! Good thing for signing bonuses! LOL!

You won the job as the 3rd down back – was it difficult being shoehorned into that role versus getting to vie for the starting job? 

Playing for the Steelers, a phenomenal organization with such a rich history and roster of viable players, I was humbled and honored to be a member of the team. I trained as if I were a starter, which paid off in time of injury where I was afforded the chance to play as a starter running back. Playing alongside the likes of Big Ben, Bettis and Palamalu was a blessing I appreciated every day of my career.

How were Coach Cowher and Coach Hoak to play for – what lessons did both coaches teach you as a player? 

Man, there are not enough good things I can say about BC. He is a class act and stand up kind of guy on and off the field. As far as football and BC, “People lie and numbers don’t”. The records of his career speak for itself. Off the field BC was a humble, intuitive and charismatic man. He may have yelled and cursed us on the field, but having a house of women with all daughters made him a teddy bear deep down.

I learned early on from Cowher to never become so tied up in my career, because family is precious priority.

Coach Hoak never over coached players and trusted that each of us players had made it to a professional level for a reason. Having played the game, both coaches had a great deal of insight, just as Lieutenants leading soldiers. It was my sincerest pleasure to play for them both.

What were your most exciting memories as a Steeler – and what made them so?

I always had a gut feeling that I would be blessed with major opportunities and looking at my accolades and Super Bowl ring, I am reminded of how hard work, faith and persistence pay off. All of my Mother’s and family support combined with my work ethic afforded me an opportunity that will forever be written in NFL History.

It is also a constant reminder to keep pushing and remain motivated for myself and my family. My wife and children were able to attend the Super Bowl game, it’s a blessing to have shared such a monumental time with them.

Who were the toughest guys you lined up against in practices – especially in the blocking drills – and what made them so?

Kendrell Bell and James Harrison come to mind. They never took a play off during practice.

You appeared on the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine ‘s 25 Most Beautiful People issue in 2007 – how much grief did your teammates give you after that?

Yes, I did get an earful of jokes. I  had a fun and comical comraderie with the fellas on the Steelers. They congratulated me, but not without a few side jokes to accommodate it.

Any last thoughts for readers?

I have returned to UGA to complete two final classes so I may obtain my degree. I want to walk the walk and show my kids that Education is important, at all levels. I now have the opportunity to merge my love for travel with my love for sports, working for ESPN International as a commentator and TV personality.

I returned to my homeland, Trinidad, to open a water sports and Jet Ski company. In addition to my professional life, I return to my college stomping grounds at UGA to assist in training the very team that help mold my athletic career. Other than the mentioned, I enjoy sending time with my wife, children, family, staying fit and enjoying the blessing of life

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