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Jerame Tuman, Steelers Tight End, 1999-2007

February 28, 2012
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Jerame Tuman:

First, can you tell readers about R.A.W. Training and what else you’ve been doing since you retired from the NFL? 

Since my retirement from the NFL, my wife (Molly) and I along with co-owner Amy Butteri have opened a training facility called R.A.W. (Realize the Athlete Within) Training in the North Hills.  Our foundation for our facility is Crossfit based.  In short we are strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied, if not randomized, functional movements executed at high intensity. 

We have been operating our gym for about three years now.  I have also been competing in Crossfit competitions for the last three years with my wife and members from our gym. 

Most importantly, since my retirement I have been able to spend more time with my son and three daughters.  I have coached their football, softball, soccer, basketball, wrestling, and baseball teams. 

What coaching lessons do you find yourself falling back on as you work with athletes – and how so? 

I think the lesson that has benefited me the most and the one that I teach to my kids as well as my athletes is, Nothing compares to hard work and determination.  I was never the biggest, fastest, or the strongest.  I knew that if I was going to last at all in NFL, that I had to out work the other guy. 

I had to want it more than they did.  Hard work and determination can take you along way in anything you do.
 
You were drafted by the Steelers in ’99 in the fifth round. There’s no guarantee you make the squad as a fifth round pick – what did you do then to catch the coaches’ eyes and prove yourself to the team to make the roster? 

I played ten years in the NFL, and there weren’t many of those years were I felt like my job was secure.  The thing I tried to do from the beginning and throughout my career is give everything I had on that day.  I tried not to worry about what happened yesterday or what we were doing tomorrow.  I tried to put everything I had into that practice or that game.  I tried to out work everyone else.
 
Who helped you most as a rookie to adjust to the Steelers and NFL – both on and off the field. And how did they do so? 

There were a few people that really helped me adjust to the Steelers and the NFL.  My position coach at the time Mike Mularkey and teammate Mark Bruener are the two that stand out the most. 

Mike taught me the high expectations, not only for a NFL tight end, but most importantly for a Steelers tight end.  His approach to how the game of football is supposed to be played is second to none.  

I don’t think you can find a better person to try to emulate on and off the field than Mark Bruener.  He is a role model in every sense of the word.  Off the field he was the nicest guy you would ever meet.  On the field he was a warrior!!!  I cannot say enough good things about Mark and what he has done for me as a person and as a football player. 

You were a highly-regarded tight end at Michigan, earning First team Big Ten honors for three straight seasons. Do you feel your receiving skills were under-utilized as a Steeler?

No, not at all.  I do find it funny that the media dubbed me as a receiving tight end in college and in the NFL I was supposed to be a blocking tight end.  I always liked to think I could do both. 

I tried hard every year to improve in both areas.  I tried to always take the approach that I would do whatever was asked of me.  I wanted to do whatever it took to contribute to my team and to help us WIN.
 
What are the advantages from your perspective in the team’s emphasis on two tight end sets versus using a fullback? 

I believe the biggest advantage in the two tight end set comes when one of those tight end can play either fullback, tight end, or wide receiver.  In this case the defense must match their personnel to yours and you are able to take advantage of that match up with a tight end that you can move all over the field.
 
2007 – your last season in Pittsburgh – saw Coach Tomlin arrive as the new coach, replacing Cowher. How surprised were you and the rest of the team at Cowher’s departure in 2007, and what was your and the rest of the team’s first impression of Coach Tomlin? 

 I don’t think we were all that surprised.  After having our end of the year meetings with Coach Cowher we all knew that  he was doing what was best for him at the time and that is what is most important. 

I think we were all impressed with Coach Tomlin.  I know I was.  Coach Tomlin is only a few years older than I am, and I can remember thinking that for a first year head coach he came across as a coaching veteran.  
 
What steps did Coach Tomlin  take as a new coach to gain the respect of the team – especially as it was a very veteran-laden team? 

I think he handled it the right way.  His first year he didn’t try to rewrite the book.  He added just enough of his own touch and left what was working alone. He took his time changing things to his approach.  
 
Who were some of the biggest characters on those Steelers teams – and what made them so? Any examples? 

There were to many to name.  I believe what makes a team great is the character of the guys on that team, not just great athletes.  One of the many great things the Steelers have done over the years is employ great guys.  Guys with great character.  It was such an honor and joy to spend 9 years with the Steelers and the guys on those teams. 

There was never a dull moment in the locker room or on a road trip.  
 
What prompted your departure from the team in 2008 – how difficult was that for you and how was it for you to play under Coach Wisenhunt in Arizona in ’08? 

I spent the majority of the 2008 season with a back injury the ultimately required surgery.  I believe that had something to do with it, as well as just being time to move on for both the Steelers and me.  It was difficult.  I would have loved to have finished my career with the Steelers.  I loved playing for them and I love the city. 

I was very fortunate to have been able to play in Arizona for Coach Ken Wisenhunt.  My family and I really enjoyed our time out there.  Coach Wisenhunt carried over many of the things we did at the Steelers.  It was an easy transition.
 
What are your best memories of your time as a Steelers? 

My best memory as a Steeler would have to be Super Bowl XL.  The entire experience leading up to the game and the game itself is something I will always cherish. I will never forget the feeling of having won a Super Bowl and being able to share that experience with my family, friends, and teammates on the field in Detroit.  

I have been very fortunate in my football career to have won a High School State Championship, a College National Championship at Michigan, and then to win a Super Bowl with the Steelers. 

God has been very good to me, and I am thankful!!

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