The Pittsburgh Steelers somewhat unexpectedly made a splash during free agency this year, on opening day no less, when they signed new starting free safety Mike Mitchell to a five-year, $25 million contract to replace Ryan Clark.
The surprising move naturally led to perhaps an inordinate amount of attention, given that the Steelers are rarely even in the position to make such a signing, let alone actually go through with it, while outbidding other teams.
So when Mitchell came to town, he was unsurprisingly the focus of a press conference and interviews and whatnot, but now, more than a month removed from the signing, the prized free agent is ready to get to work.
“I am excited to meet the guys and get to work. I am a football player. The press conference and everything was nice, but I am here to play football. That’s what I am here to do and excited about doing. Everyone is here working hard and I can’t wait for the season”.
That’s certainly the approach you’d like your new investment to take, eschewing the spotlight that you yourself have put on him in order to get to work and get ready for the upcoming season that lies ahead.
But that was never going to be a problem for Mitchell, which may perhaps be part of why the Steelers were interested in him. He needs no external motivation.
He’s known for being a notoriously committed trainer, as is evidenced by this training video that was recorded prior to the 2009 draft, when he was selected in the second round by the Oakland Raiders—no doubt in large part due to his workout numbers.
Mitchell then spoke about his commitment to physical training, having attended the Athletic Strength and Power performance training center since he was 13. His work ethic is one that the team should hope spreads throughout the locker room.
Not just his work ethic, however, but also his initiative:
The earlier you can start the foundation of getting to know guys and their work ethic and things like that the better. I already know Shamarko (Thomas) is a hard worker and that is good to see. I think it’s critical. This is when you develop those hard working days before the summer gets here to start working on that bond and trust and I can rely on this guy because he is here when he doesn’t have to be.
Clark was known as a vocal leader both on and off the field. Mitchell, too, has a reputation for being vocal, particularly on the field, both in terms of commanding the defense and in exchanging words with the opposing team.
From the sounds of it, he also appears to have the makeup of a player that can emerge as a leader off the field as well. He has the disposition and the energy that draws one’s attention. Although he may be a new face in the locker room, he is a five-year veteran and is coming off an impressive, albeit one-year stint as the starting free safety on one of the best defenses in the league