JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you grew up in Western Pennsylvania, you were a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. No excuses, no adopting another NFL team. You rooted for the Steelers.
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny was no exception.
That’s why the Jaguars’ trip to Heinz Field on Sunday is so special for Posluszny, who lived in nearby Aliquippa. It’s a chance to play against the team he loved growing up in front of family and friends.
“I always love playing there because it’s back home,” Posluszny said. “Have a ton of respect for the Steelers and their entire organization because of the success that they’ve had and the way they do things, so to me it’s always fun and it’s an honor to go back there and play.”
Not surpringly, Posluszny’s favorite Steelers players growing up were linebackers -- Jason Gildon and Kendrell Bell when he was younger, and James Farrior and Larry Foote when he was a high school football star at Hopewell High School.
“You always liked watching their defense,” Posluszny said.
Posluszny was one of the best high school players in Pennsylvania history. He was a two-way standout at Hopewell, rushing for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns and starting at middle linebacker to lead the Vikings to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAA championship in 2002.
He signed with Penn State and played four seasons for the Nittany Lions. He was the first junior captain for the program since 1968, a two-time AP All-American and a two-time winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player. Buffalo drafted him in the second round in 2007 and he played four years for the Bills before signing as a free agent with the Jaguars in 2011.
This will be Posluszny’s third game in Pittsburgh. He played there in 2007 as a member of the Buffalo Bills and in 2011 with the Jaguars. The Steelers won both games.