Steelers' new 'buddy,' a cancer survivor, addresses team and ribs Bengals

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers received a post-practice message last week from an unlikely source, courtesy of defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt.

Tuitt brought his neighbor’s friend to practice, who according to Tuitt is a 21-year-old brain tumor survivor named Ryan. Coach Mike Tomlin introduced Ryan, who walked into a circle of players and coaches.

Smartly, Ryan played to the crowd.

“He said, 'If we all pass away, in heaven, there’s no Cincinnati, there’s no Cleveland -- it’s all Pittsburgh Steelers fans,’” Tuitt recalled with a smile.

Tuitt didn’t know the exact spelling of Ryan’s last name, and efforts to reach him have been unsuccessful, but Tuitt said Ryan’s presence at Steelers organized team activities was necessary for fresh perspective.

Ryan has undergone multiple treatments for his tumor and keeps beating the odds, Tuitt said.

When asked about the guest speaker, Tomlin simply said that he’s a "buddy" of the team.

“I feel it’s good for the guys to be able to hear from him,” Tuitt said. “It makes you not take stuff for granted, makes you realize you’re blessed to be healthy, blessed to be alive and a part of something.”

Ryan made an impression with a simple message.

“He was speaking kind of soft so we couldn’t hear everything, but we definitely heard [the heaven line],” wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said.