Steve Fedell, Steelers Linebacker, 1981-1982
First, can you let readers know what you’ve been doing since your time in the NFL -how you got started in this venture and how your time in the NFL helped you?
Shortly after my athletic career ended I got involved in the office equipment industry selling printing and copying technology for a local company, Allegheny Business Machines. ABM was purchased by IKON Office Solutions of which Ricoh bought in 2008. I’m currently an executive with Ricoh responsible for the Northeast Region and approximately $1.1b in revenue.
You also do a lot of charity work in the Pittsburgh area- with a big focus on helping homeless children. What caused you to focus on this issue and how can readers help?
Most of the charitable work I’ve engaged in has been centered around children as I’m a firm believer that each child deserves a chance to pursue their dreams. I’ve been involved with DePaul Institute, St. Anthony’s School Programs, as well as the Homeless Children’s Education Fund. Donations to these worthwhile causes are critical to the ongoing funding necessary to support the programs and progress of the children.
After playing for Pitt, you joined the Steelers in 1981. How hard was it to try to make that Steelers squad – especially with such a deep linebacker corps there and the pressure of being a local guy- and what about you do you think caught the coaching staff’s attention?
Every level of athletic progression becomes more competitive and challenging. To be part of the Steeler organization is any local kids dream. Having the benefit of playing on a nationally ranked college team with great players helped with the attentiveness of the NFL. At the time I was one of the larger linebackers coming out of college at 245lbs. I had great strength and ran a 4.7.
As a rookie, who helped mentor you most and helped you adjust to the Steelers- both on and off the field – and how did they do so?
I was fortunate to have Lambert take an interest in helping me and tutoring me through the defensive schemes and responsibilities. Off the field my family was always there as we lived locally in the community of Westview.
How competitive and helpful to you were the linebackers as a unit and who was the leader of that group then?
The group was extremely competitive as most of the veterans had several Super Bowl rings. Lambert was definitely the leader of the group as he was in the prime of his career and one of the top defensive players in the league.
You tore your achilles twice in two seasons. But instead of sulking, you actually started getting involved in helping the team in its scouting processes. How did that come about and what did you learn about the Steelers approach and Dick Haley that you think was unique and made them so successful?
After the second injury I was not able to resume playing as I was not going to receive clearance from the team doctor. As a result I welcomed the opportunity to join Art Rooney Jr’s scouting team and assist in the college evaluation group. The Steeler organization always focused on character, athleticism, and organizational fit. Always looked for talent that would fit the culture and had great athleticism.
Did you consider staying with the scouting profession- why/why not?
I did consider for a short period of time however I wanted to try my hand at business especially in the selling profession. At the time I wanted to get away from sports and transition into corporate America. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the scouting department especially for the best team in the sport.
You were there during the strike season of 1982. How did the team handle the strike from your perspective and how did it effect your career?
Not sure it really had an impact on my career as the achilles injury was the turning point in not being able to continue.
Do you like the direction of the NFL these days- why/why not – and what advice would you give to players entering the NFL now?
The NFL game has really changed dramatically over the years and today’s game is much different than when I played. Free agency has forever changed the game and the money involved today is out of this world. There’s not a lot of loyalty between team and player and player and team. Years ago teams would draft players and invest several years in their development. Today, you better contribute immediately or you won’t be around long. The advice I suggest to all athletes is that you’re only one injury of not playing so make sure you’re diversified and have alternative options. Especially with your education.
Any last thoughts for readers?
It was a great honor and privilege to be part of the Steeler organization as it remains one of the premiere sports organizations in the world.