Villanueva On His Experiences With Other Teams: ‘They Don’t Value You As A Person’

It seems to me that it’s a widely-held opinion that Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is a good interview. The Steelers have already put up a couple of pieces about him via interview segments, and Teresa Varley came at us with another one yesterday.

This time, the former Army Ranger talked about his experiences working with other organizations and how he has found that to differ with what he has experienced during his three seasons in Pittsburgh. Probably not really a spoiler alert, but he sees some pretty substantial differences.

I tend to value Villanueva’s views on more macroscopic views pertaining to football because in many ways he is approaching it not just as an outside, but as a person who is experiencing much of it at a more mature stage later on in life.

Everybody reading this already knows by now that he didn’t make a team coming out of college. He had a trying as a tight end with the Bengals in 2010 that year he graduated, but he wasn’t signed, and he went out for his first deployment after that. A couple of years later, he had another fruitless tryout with the Bears.

Flash forward to 2014 and Villanueva works out at a regional combine. The Eagles take notice of him and give him a chance at defensive end. He makes it through training camp, plays against the Steelers, but doesn’t get signed to the 53-man roster. Pittsburgh takes interests and signs him to the practice squad, moving him to tackle. The rest is history.

But boy did that years-long journey shape how he sees things. “It’s very hard for me to trust someone when it comes to the NFL”, he told Varley, saying that “so many organizations have led me to believe I would make the team and then I got cut”. The candidate organizations are limited to three: Cincinnati, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

He saw pretty on that Pittsburgh was different. “This organization is special”, in his estimation. He talked about the Steelers’ stability and ownership “that is present in everybody’s lives”, how he would see the Rooneys around the facility or at mass and would always stop to say hello.

“That means a lot”, he said. “That means I mean something to the Steelers”. More than he meant elsewhere. “In other organizations, they might know who you are. They might have heard of you, but they don’t value you as a person”.

The Steelers, he said, “care about me not as a veteran, not as a football player, not as an MBA candidate. They care about me as a person”. I can’t tell you how many times it’s talked about how the Rooneys run their team as a family, but that’s really where everything starts.

“Once you have that trust in the organization”, Villanueva said, “the organization tries to get the best out of you and that is what they are doing”. And that inspires players to give their best to the organization, to their second family.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Art Rooney II is the third generation of the family involved in the running of the Steelers. Most family run business do not last beyond two generations; is there a 4th generation Rooney being groomed in the wings?

  • Applebite

    It’s still amazing how often you hear this story from players that come to Pittsburgh. And I would have thought that the Bears would be among the last of franchises to treat their team, their people like another face in the crowd.

  • VaDave

    Virginia ( Halas) McClaskey still owns the club, but it seems to me a while back, there was a media concern that bought a significant portion of the team.

  • VaDave

    I sure hope so. That said, they’d better be working on their estate and business continuation plans, because taxes could make this sort of transfer cost prohibitive, and force them to give up control. They brought in a lot of minority owners the last go-around, just a few more could tip the balance. It was one thing when the franchise was worth a quarter of a million, next time it’s going to be in the billions.

  • falconsaftey43

    AV is my favorite player to hear from. Always great insight and perspective. I really hope he gets a long term deal done this offseason, he deserves it.

  • Craig M

    I think the Steeler organization centers around not pride, adulations, but respect of itself and the players/ coaches. This to me is what has given the team tenure at the top.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    There is… Dan- Art’s son, who was a Ivy leaguer, worked as a scout and coach and interned in the nfl offices… he is late 20s and from what I’ve read his as humble and hard working as is dad and granddad

  • PaeperCup

    I wish I could upvote articles. This is GREAT stuff.

    It would be cool to have a Villanueva Army jersey.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Ed Bouchette just talked about Art’s son, Dan, as the poster above me just mentioned, in a recent chat. He seems to be right in line with what we’ve come to expect from the lineage from Art to Dan and back to Art: The Re-Artening. In the future I suppose we’ll get The Dan Strikes Back. He’s currently on the staff as a coaching assistant after previously working as a scout and in other roles before that.

  • Steve

    Good article Matthew. The Rooneys are Old school and it started with “The Chief”.

  • Darth Blount 47

    You can “recommend” the article. And I think simply commenting your approval is as good or better than any kind of upvote.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I watched the replay of the Baltimore/Pittsburgh Week 16 game on NFL Network last night. Since it was a replay and not live, you really get a chance to tell yourself to pay closer attention to certain players while the game was going. Villy was one such guy that I wanted to watch closely. And I was even more impressed than usual, when I focused in on him.

    How in the world did the others team not keep him around, OR not see that he would be a real asset to ANY O-line group? If he sticks around for another handful of years, and I think he will, and continues to hone his game and craft, he could end up as one of the greatest Steeler stories that we’ve seen in a very long time. On par or close to the James Harrison Story.

    Alejandro makes me feel like that uber proud younger brother (even though I’m older than him by a bunch) who watches his older brother succeed and the level of pride and happiness that washes over you that is almost indescribable. As a man, a veteran, as player, a Steeler, I couldn’t be happier that he is our starting Left Tackle, entrusted to protect Big Ben and his blind side. I hope he finishes his career right here in Pittsburgh.


  • Dubb Betts

    Anotha one! Great article Matthew I love your work. Can you convince Dave to let you on the podcast?
    Joking aside I love AV he’s been giving great quotes.