Interview: Shamarko Thomas Says He Left Steelers On Good Terms

Bringing you another Pittsburgh Steelers’ interview courtesy of our good friend Ron Lippock of the Pittsburgh Sports Daily Bulletin. Today, Ron chats with former Steelers’ safety Shamarko Thomas. They talk about his time with the Steelers, his workouts with Troy Polamalu, and what Thomas is up to today.

Be sure to check out Ron’s book, Steelers’ Takeaways: Player Memories Through The Decades, featuring over 400 interviews with players and coaches, past and present. You can buy it on Amazon through the link provided here.

First, let us know what you’re up to now?

Well, I’m training. Just waiting for a call. You know, the free agency process.

Has your agent told you anything? Any teams you are hoping for?

Just that I need to take it week to week. We’re just looking for a situation that works to get signed by a team. I’m not looking to get signed by any specific team really.

Looking back on your start in Pittsburgh – were you surprised to be drafted by the Steelers? What did they tell you when you were drafted?

Yeah. Definitely. When Carnell Lake worked me out I tweaked my hamstring and it didn’t go like I wanted it to. I didn’t think he wanted me. After that, CoachTomlin called me when I was drafted and just said “Welcome to the team.” Then Troy Polamalu called me right afterwards and said the same thing and said it was time to get to work.

A lot has been made of Troy’s taking you under his wing when you were there, including being of the few invited to train with him. Why do you think he took that interest in you?

You’d have to ask him, but just my opinion, I think it was just because of the work I put into the game.We really didn’t talk a lot about football. It wasn’t  about that. We talked more about God and building a strong foundation. We just really talked. I listened and he helped me to learn to be focused and prepared.

What were some of the things he talked most about that helped you?

Just about remaining humble. To put God first and work hard. Everyone could see how great Troy was on the field, but I don’t think they realize how much he put into the game – how hard he

Well, everything he did was different. He trained from the toes up. He didn’t use weights. He ran – a lot. A lot of hills.

Did the other vets help you as well there?

They all did but not just by talking with me. They showed me the way. I watched them. The same routines every day. Working hard. Cam, Ben, Harrison…all the guys just showed a lot of confidence in themselves. Even in OTAs – I was shocked at how hard they worked even then.

Onequestion I wanted to ask you. A lot of safeties that have been drafted by the Steelers – yet good athletes  like yourself seemed to have struggled in Pittsburgh to secure spots and playing time. Why is that? Scheme?

It’s not that difficult of a scheme – so no, it’s not that. For me, it was just other things. I can’t go into detail on it.

Nothing to do with the need to play it safe in the scheme when as a safety you want to make plays instead?

No. It’s not about that. I just can’t get into the details of it. I have good relationships there and I just can’t really talk about it.

Ok – well let’s talk about some of the fun times there. Tell me a couple of good stories about your time there.

Well, in my rookie year, my locker was near Troy’s. I had a single locker and it was sort of next to Troy’s – in the same section. Well, I could see him talking to me then all of the sudden he disappeared. But he was still talking – I just couldn’t see him. I thought it was a prank.

Then I realized he had two lockers and he was in the second one- it had a fridge and other stuff in it. I also remember my first day there and meeting Troy in person. He was in these tennis shoes in camp and made this one-handed interception – a great play. Tomlin just looked at me and said “Yeah – it’s real out here! That’s Troy…” I remember simple things like that.

How hard was it when at the end of your contract you weren’t re-signed? What was said to you?

People talk about that and think there was no offer and things weren’t ok. I left on a good note – it wasn’t a bad situation. It was just about simple things. I’m not going to go into detail. But it was positive – all on good terms.

It wasn’t your hardest moment I know. It’s been written about I know, but tell us how you managed and how it affected you as a person and player when, as a college student, both of your parents passed away within months of one another? 

It was a hard time. But I believed in God and had faith in God to lead me. It made me a more mature person. I had to take care of my brother. It turned me into a monster on the field. I had to feed my family. It took me to another level in my life.

Any advice for kids entering the game today?

You have to work hard and be dedicated. To be focused. Those are the key things. You gotta believe in yourself.

And any last thoughts for readers?

Yeah – I’d like to tell them about Destined for Greatness (Ed Note: Check the site out here).  It’s my website – my wife and I created it. Well, my wife did all the work! Me and a friend came up with the idea. It’s just starting – we are selling clothes – shirts with motivational sayings on them – stuff like that. People should take a look – we’re hoping to use the money to help some foundations. We’re just starting it out.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Another solid interview thanks for the insight Ron. Can’t deny Shark the person he’s really good dude I wish him well.

  • pittfan

    Headache!! I like this guy. Sure he disappointed as a draft pick (and took a lot of heat) but he didn’t dish dirt and make excuses like so many do. Hope he catches on somewhere, but doesn’t come back to bite us.

  • Rotten Sircus

    Shamarko will be working before the season ends. Teams are already battered at his position & he has the right attitude !!!

  • Petherson Silveira

    I still would like to know “the details”.

  • 20Stoney

    Me too! But he is being smart not saying anything. Burning bridges is seldom a good idea. Sounds like that’s what the details would do.

  • JohnB

    I always wanted this kid to do good things. Glad he’s not burning bridges and whatnot. But this interview made me really miss Troy.

  • Steelers12

    he is saying Tomlin is too stubborn to adjust to other teams offensive schemes (I am a Tomlin guy by the way)

  • Mr jack

    Really wanted him to do great things for us.Never know how things may work out.

  • nutty32

    Seriously doubt Shamarko had a disagreement about schemes. The feeling I got (& saw) was that ST would COMPLETELY blow his assignment on given plays from time to time. Just completely doing the wrong thing leaving a huge hole. Too much free lance to be trusted out there unless your name starts with a “P” and has lots of vowels in it. Or he didn’t know the play book, which he disputes in the interview. Keep in mind he couldn’t stick with the Jets either.

  • MintDragon

    Meh. As Tomlin said many times, problem from the neck up. Wish him well.

  • Steelers12

    All true

  • ND_Steel

    Props to Shamarko…I really respect him keeping some things to himself. He could easily blame others, but regardless of his beliefs, he didn’t throw stones. Never really gained any traction on defense, partly due to untimely injuries. But, he’s a heck of an athlete and showed flashes of being a ST demon (despite the unnecessary penalties). Nice tidbits about Troy and their relationship. Best wishes to him moving forward.

  • Demetri George

    Couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t want to know the truth about the “details”

  • Zarbor

    I like Shamarko as a good dude, hard worker and great life story. He left a lot to be desired on the field. It was kinda unfair to pair him with the greatest safety in team history. Bar was too high and he seem to be out of place alot when in the game.

    Hope he gets picked up and gets better. I’m not as hopeful since he did not get a lot of playing time at safety but you never know since he did well on ST.

  • Shane Mitchell

    The details are Tomlin wanted to play his passive cover-2 BS scheme and drafted a puss safety in the second round so he could run it, and Shamarko isnt a cover-2 safety.

  • Steve

    Troy was a student of the game and knew what was coming before it happen. He could read the players and alignment and would blow the play up as it happen. You don’t get many like Troy that had the knack to be in the right place at the right time and he have the speed and knowledge to beat teams to the punch.

  • Steelers12

    So u know???

  • LucasY59

    I still like Shamarko, and the interview shows a lot (without him saying much) I wish they had room on the roster for him to play STs, but understand why they moved on (and why he wanted to as well) IMO he would be just as good as Golden (but RG is a Tomlin guy and Thomas obviously was not)

  • Demetri George


  • Demetri George


  • Demetri George

    On to something.

  • Petherson Silveira

    Nice point!!

  • Petherson Silveira


  • Steelers12


  • Demetri George

    Why I would say anything. Not my details to tell. Just defending Marko who is a friend.

  • Demetri George

    Not my details to tell. Just don’t want people putting out wrong info on Marko.

  • Steelers12

    I can understand that