Zamir Cobb, Steelers Wide Receiver, 2004
First, can you let readers know about Players Trust – what it is, and what you do for the program as Program Manager?
The Trust is an organization committed to the overall health and well- being of all former players. With customized gameplans (goals and objectives), The Trust meets each former player where he is in his transition. In other words, we understand that the needs and interest of each player is unique and, as such, the approach to second career success is individualized. Through partnerships we provide access to career, medical, nutrition, entrepreneurial and continuing education services — all benefits players earned.
How did you get involved with the program and what about your experiences playing football helped prepare you for this?
I discovered the job posting on the NFLPA Job Opportunities Board. After reading the qualifications, I was convinced that my background and experience favored success in the position. More specifically, as it relates to the question, my experience as a player helped prepare me to serve former players as they embark on their journey toward second career success. When assisting players in their transition from the NFL, I often draw upon my attempts to redefine my sense of purpose, direction, and motivation during this trying period of my life. The prospective afforded by my experiences promotes an empathetic, non-judgmental, and strengths based approach to servicing players.
How can fans get involved with Players Trust?
Fans can like us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
You signed with the Steelers in 2004 as an undrafted free agent in 2004. What made you decide to sign on with the Steelers especially when they were so deep at receiver with Ward, Randle El, Washington, Mays, and Wilson?
I made the decision to sign with the Steelers because it is where I felt I would be given the best opportunity to prove my skills. Despite the enormity of talent at the receiver position, I felt I could be a dynamic addition to the pack.
How competitive were the receivers with one another for passes and playing time and how did they help you as young player learning the game?
To be a Steeler you have no option other than to compete at a high level. The vets were extremely helpful in my effort to learn the game. I received tutelage from both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. If they think you can play, they assist you in your effort to be a good player.
Who helped mentor you most as a rookie and helped you to adjust to life as a Steeler and as a resident of the city? How did they do so?
From what I can recall, Randal El was most helpful on the field as we had a similar style of play. That is not to say that Hines and the others did not do so as well. Charlie Batch and Mike Logan were most helpful in helping me adjust to the city. They provided advice regarding where to go for necessities and the best places to take my family. I actually lived a block from Mike in the Hill District. The assistance that was provided by the vets is much appreciated.
2004 was Roethlisberger’s first season. How did his arrival impact the team from your perspective – how did the veteran quarterbacks and receivers adjust to a first round quarterback entering the picture?
Ben seemed to provide a breath of fresh air. His unwavering enthusiasm was contagious and his energy provided a spark. After Ben proved he could play, the adjustment by the vets is best described as fluid. Simply put, the Steelers adjust well to any player that can get the job done and it was more than evident that Ben was one of those players.
Who were some of the toughest guys you lined up against both in practice and on game days? What made them so?
Well, the receivers were light on hits during practice, so, there was very little to be afraid of. Unfortunately, my injuries kept me from competing against the games most feared defenders. There was a time I had to block Joey Porter coming off the end in practice and I recall a coach saying “die with dignity”. Joey took it light and I survived.
Humor plays a big part in keeping teams loose. Who were some of the guys on the Steelers teams you played for that helped keep things light, and how did they do so? Any examples of the hijinks?
Too many of the jokes made in the locker room need context to repeat. This is not to say that we were brutal or politically incorrect. I’ll just say that we were a team that enjoyed one another and it was like family.
How difficult was it for you leaving the Steelers and moving on to play for Arizona. And what were the major differences between those two teams and organizations, from your perspective?
It was one the most difficult transitions in my life. While it is a privilege to be a part of any NFL team, to be a Steeler is mythical. Playing for such a historical winner and associating myself with the greatness of past and present Steelers was an honor. I only wish that I was smarter about how I handled my injuries.
Injuries had an impact on your time in Pittsburgh. What advice would you give younger players today knowing a career can end on one play?
If you’re hurt, say you’re hurt. If your team asks you to go on the injury list, do so. And, if your team recommends you take an exit physical, do so. There is no positive outcome to being dishonest about injuries.
Any last thoughts for readers?
I thank those that created a Zamir Cobb jersey during training camp when I was just a rookie free agent trying to make the team. I thank the Steelers for making every attempt to make me feel a part of the team as I struggled through injuries. I don’t know of a nation that is as strong, vast, and committed as Steeler nation. Go Steelers!