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Tim Lester, Steelers Fullback, 1995-1998

November 19, 2011

Tim Lester:

First, can you let readers know about your ministry and your work speaking to youth on drugs, sex alcohol?

My  mission is to share my personal life experiences with students, helping them to recognize the consequences of their decisions and  choices while giving them the message of hope.

What’s the most challenging aspect of this work, and do you use your experiences in the NFL as part of your message (if so, how)?

The most challenging part of this work is that we are losing a generation of young people to alcohol,drugs ,violence,and sex. The #1 killer among teenagers is drinking and driving. The #2 killer is drug overdose. By the year 2020, 68 million teenagers will die from AIDS.

The most challenging part is that I can’t reach them by myself. I need help from active and retired players and  fans. I need people who want to be transparent about their wrong way of living to reach our young people.

For a long time I hid behind the NFL and my college degree. I found out it was worthless without God being my focus. I found freedom and peace in the cross.. I use my NFL  lifestyle as an example of what not to do.

Yes I do use my NFL experience. It allows me a plat form to relate to the youth.

How did your faith affect the way you played and approached the game?

My faith was very weak  at that time when I was in the NFL. I was consumed too much by the NFL logo, money, fame, and women. But the little  faith I had gave me confidence to play relentless for God and fear no one but God.

Whenever I played against bigger, stronger, faster player, which was every week, I would think about the story of David and Goliath and how he defeated Goliath with one small stone. Now that’s faith. That little  faith I had allowed me to play eight years in the NFL and start six years out of the eight years.

Today  I am growing more every day in my faith. It’s a battle to break away from Satan’s  stronghold, but I am obedient to what God has called me to do. I still drive the bus but now I drive it for God . My mission now is a lot bigger than the bus. I lead the way for God’s kingdom.

You were drafted by the Rams and played for them for three years before coming to Pittsburgh. What brought you to the Steelers and how did they convince you to play in Pittsburgh?

I was drafted in the 10th round by the Rams. When the Rams fired Coach Knox the team was looking to make changes with the offense with the  new coach they brought in named Rich Brooks. Coach Brooks’ plan was to make the team more of a passing team, so I was released signed with the Steelers. A year later Jerome was traded.

We didn’t win a lot of games the three years I was with the Rams but we did beat the Steelers. Me and Jerome both had great games against them. I remember playing against Levon Kirkland, Greg Lloyd ,Kevin Green and Chad Brown and  smashing them in the mouth.

Because of that game the Steelers signed me as a free agent when the Rams released me in 1995.  They chose me and I was excited to be on a winning team for the first time in the NFL. They didn’t have to convince me to play for them, I was honored to be a part of that organization and team. It was a blessing.

Who were the players that first “took you under their wing” as a new Steelers player – and how did they do so?

The first person was that took me under their wing was Bam Morris. It’s always a running back because they valued what I did.

Well back then going to the clubs, drinking, and enjoying the groupies that followed us around. But I looked up to Dermonti Dawson, Carnell Lake, Jerry O {Olsavsky} and running back Coach Dick Hoak .

You arrived in Pittsburgh a year before Jerome Bettis was traded for and blocked for Pegram and Morris that first season. How much changes for you as a fullback depending on the back you are blocking for?

That first year I was a back up to John L. Williams. I learned a lot from john L. Williams by watching his every move on the field. I got most of my work in practice going against Levon, Greg, Kevin,and Chad. Every practice was  like a game. They would always tell me to slow down but after being cut by the Rams I had a lot to prove so I never changed my approach to practice.

They were all millionaires. I was trying to get on the active roster. I was on a mission to seek and destroy and make millions like them.

That year I also learned how to cover kicks and play special teams. I scored my first touchdown that year against Green Bay. I also remember running down on kickoffs knocking people out who were trying to block me in the wedge. I loved the fact that Coach Cowher would make highlights of each game to let the rest of the team know what we were doing on special teams.

 What was the mindset of that team against Dallas in the Super Bowl – did you see yourselves as underdogs and what happened that the running game started to really kick in as the game progressed?

My style of blocking never changed. I played at one speed and it was all-out for the knockout. My speed to get on players quickly was my advantage. At  5’11.  230 I was pretty small for a fullback  but very effective because of my quickness, leverage, technique,and aggressiveness .

How did Bettis change the mindset of that offense when he arrived and how did you adjust your game for him?

Our mindset was to punch them in the mouth but somehow we got off track and decided to pass a little too much. As a player I always saw myself as an underdog, and as a team we always believed we belonged. Once Neil threw two picks we went back to our roots –  smashmouth football. But it was too late.

There was never a change of our offensive mindset but a change in players. Jerome had quickness, speed and power which made us better. Also, with a young quarterback like Kordell , our run game took the pressure of him.

How was the team in terms of cohesiveness under Coach Cowher? How did the team stay focused and loose – who were the leaders on those teams and ho did they do so?

I think coach did a great job with making every player on that team feel important and part of the success of the team. He was great at making special teams important because of his participation and knowledge of it. He brought a sense of toughness to all  three phases of the game. 

It was easy to stay focused and loose because are coaches were pretty laid back if we took care of business in practice and games.

Coach Cowher had a great personality. He cracked jokes and was very approachable. You knew if you screwed up you would get the long chin look and spit in your face.

The leaders were Greg Lloyd, Jerome, Levon Kirkland, Dermontti ,Yancey Thigpen, and Darren Perry. They led by how they played the game and how they carried themselves off the field.

The fullback today is a waning in use in the NFL. What are your thoughts on the evolution of the game and the diminishing role of the fullback now?

Well in 1992 when I was drafted they were in the process of doing the same thing but me and Jerome’s success with the Rams slowed it down. Speed has become more important than toughness now. They need fullbacks that can run and play special teams.

The Colts were the only team to win a Super Bowl with out a fullback but they had the best quarterback in the NFL. The game has become more of a passing game. I can promise you that the team that wins the Super Bowl will have a true fullback.

Your have a new book out title “The Bus Driver A Journey of Perseverance”. Tell us about the book – what inspired you to write it and what it covers?

I started writing this book ten years ago after retirement but realized the book was all about me and not what God had did for me. I realized that my book wouldn’t help hurting people but portray me as perfect person, which I am not and never was.

So I ripped it in two and became transparent about all my struggles and mistakes in life. After spending the last two years in schools  speaking to young people about choices, I realized that our young people needed a message of hope from some who had been through something . So I used my personal life and family mistakes to show consequences of choices hoping they will learn from my mistakes.

Jerome”The Bus” Bettis wrote a nice forward for the book as well.

How can readers purchase the book?

The book can be ordered online or mail a check to 980 Birmingham Road Suite 501-364 Milton GA 30004.  All purchases our tax-deductible. Bulk orders have different prices. Make checks payable to NFL-NewFoundLife.

Any last thoughts for readers?

I still bleed black and gold. I believe that Steelers fans are the best fans in the world. Help support this mission by donating monthly or purchasing books. God bless!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Scotty Mathis permalink
    May 26, 2013 9:27 pm

    I was blessed and fortunate to meet Tim Lester and spend some time with him this weekend. He is a real guy who loves JESUS and wants to make a difference in the lives of others. Tim is committed to using the platform GOD has given him to create change in the direction of our youth. Scotty Mathis

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