Sean Spence Relieved To Be Just A Football Player Again

Third-year inside linebacker Sean Spence put on the pads yesterday for the first time in nearly two years. He hardly slept, and his emotions were running rampant in anticipation for the next milestone in getting his career off the ground.

His head coach felt no such anxiety, at least that he would cop to.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after practice he didn’t really think about Spence’s first practice in pads much at all, because “we’ve had a great deal of comfort in where Sean is for some time”.

I probably went to those feelings of emotion when he came out in the spring and really showed his capabilities in terms of movement and control of his body and redirecting. I really didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it or looking at him today. I know he was glad to be back out there and had a smile on his face.

After the day’s proceedings, Spence should have those same feelings of comfort after confirming that his knee will hold up under live fire.

Reports have been positive about Spence all spring, talking about how he’s been quick on the field and always around the ball, and he ended minicamp with an interception that he transported into the end zone.

But that was all without the pads, during “football in shorts”. Yesterday was football, and not just “football-like”. And he passed the test.

He was active during the day according to reports. Jim Wexell Tweeted that he “looked as fast as he did in the spring”, and that he still looked “instinctive”, which was perhaps his greatest asset prior to his injury.

He managed to make a play or two during the day behind the line during 11-on-11 drills, and he took on the backs on backers drill with enthusiasm.

“Soon as I got the first hit, I was good to go,” he said. He said that he was glad to finally just be a football player again. For too long now, he has simply been a story, albeit a comeback story.

But it wasn’t his story. He wasn’t the one writing it. The story was about him, but it wasn’t his. Now he’s picked up the pen, and he’s ready to take authorship of the next chapter.

He may not have had that chance if the Steelers hadn’t kept the faith in him and hosted his rehabilitation for the past two years with no tangible returns on the field.

“I was very blessed to be with this organization because I could have been cut loose a long time ago. But they didn’t, they stayed and waited for me and I’m very thankful and grateful for that”.

Spence knows that it’s time to start repaying that gratitude, which will probably take shape on special teams.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • srdan


  • Jacque Strappe

    Hoping his run continues.

  • sweep_the_legarrette

    If he stays healthy our ILB depth just became a strength of this team.

  • steeltown

    Ha! ..”sweep the legarrette”… classic

  • steeltown

    Love the vibe of this Team right now, Spence brings something extra to it in the form of motivation, hard work and dedication

  • sweep_the_legarrette

    Thanks! 🙂

  • srdan

    I agree, this training camp feels different. It’s the perfect storm. New emerging leaders on both sides, speed, and it sounds like everyone took good care of themselves this offseason. Top that off with the pick of Shazier being better than advertised, there is a lot of room for excitement.

  • dgh57

    Jim Wexell Tweeted he looked instinctive. If I remember this right Keith Butler commented on that aspect of his game when he was drafted and alluded that it was even Polamalu like instincts. Can’t wait to see how it translates to the field!

  • Donte Williams

    i agree i am excited to see them in preseason

  • Lil Smitty

    I was there yesterday and a quarter of the people that I was around were wanting to see how Sean Spence was doing. Where else but Steeler Nation would a third round pick from two years ago be such a point of interest. In this nation we care about the people who wear the uniform after they take it off.

  • indeed

  • This

  • Brendon Glad

    Rooting extra hard for him. And since I tend to criticize the training staff more than about any other part of the team, I think they deserve a lot of credit for his recovery, and I was especially impressed with their decision to dial-him-down last year. I think we all will be happy that he did not get thrown into a mid-season football game after all he has been through.