When the NFL Draft wrapped up in late April, there were very few stories as touching as James Conner’s. Conner had a fantastic 2014 season for the University of Pittsburgh. He earned first-team All-ACC honors and was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Everyone expected the Erie, Pa native to take the next step in 2015, but instead Conner had other battles to fight that were off the field.
In the season opener, Conner tore his MCL that would keep him off the field for the rest of the season. While rehabbing his MCL, Conner was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A disease that would make so many people fall down, would not stop Conner from fighting. He went through chemotherapy treatments and would still report to practice. This sent a message to the rest of his team. As everyone knows, Conner went onto beat cancer and returned to the football field in 2016 this time as a team captain.
When the Steelers made Conner the 105th pick of the draft, head coach Mike Tomlin let everyone know right away that the pick was far from a “feel good” story. The Steelers have ran into some scenarios over the years where they had to operate without the likes of star running back Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers needed someone who can answer the call when Bell is not on the field and that is where James Conner will get his chance to shine in the early part of his career.
The Steelers have a history that very few teams can match throughout the league. From Super Bowl victories, to a number Hall of Famers throughout the decades, the black and gold continue to be one of the league’s top franchises in league history.
“Tradition,” said Conner. “There are so many greats that have come before us and we have to honor their legacy.”
Conner acknowledges the history of the franchise. This will surly keep Conner a fan favorite with Steeler Nation. His comments on the storied organization did not stop there.
“The Rooney family, what they have established and put together is unbelievable. When you think of the Steelers, you think of men of steel, Steel City, hard-nosed football players who do things the right way.”
Transitioning from college to the pro level requires Conner to play on the same field he did in college. A player who grew up and played so close to the Steel City, already gets what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. Conner has mentioned he wants to represent his community and do good for people.
These qualities are great for anyone to have, but especially someone who realizes the impact he has and can make on and off the field. Conner looks to be one of those hard nosed football players who do things the “right way.”