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fordfixer
02-18-2009, 10:51 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley returns to Saginaw High as Super Bowl champion
by Hugh Bernreuter | The Saginaw News
Wednesday February 18, 2009, 3:55 PM

http://www.mlive.com/sports/saginaw/ind ... acker.html (http://www.mlive.com/sports/saginaw/index.ssf/2009/02/pittsburgh_steelers_linebacker.html)

LaMarr Woodley refuses to think of himself as a celebrity.The teachers and students at Saginaw High may disagree.

"Maybe I'm a role model, and I accept that responsibility," the former Saginaw High football standout said Wednesday. "But I never think of myself as a celebrity. I'm just me."

The 24-year-old Woodley, however, is making the rounds of a celebrity after helping the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23, in Super Bowl XLIII. Woodley recorded two sacks, including one that ended Arizona's final drive and insured a Steelers' win.

Woodley stopped at Saginaw High Wednesday to give students some advance and autographs. Saginaw High Athletic Director Lou Dawkins also announced that the school will retire Woodley's No. 56 football uniform.

"When it came down to the last play, I was screaming at the television, 'Wood is going to get the sack,'" Dawkins said. "When he pointed at the television, he pointed to the City of Saginaw."

But Woodley has become bigger than Saginaw. He has made four appearances on ESPN's Jim Rome Show and is scheduled to appear during ESPN-The Weekend at Walt Disney World in two weeks. He has also appeared on BET's 106 & Park show.

"I'm getting the chance to do things and go on shows that I watch, shows that aren't just about football," Woodley said. "The opportunities are there now, with the Super Bowl and all. I'm taking advantage of it."

Woodley has no problem appearing in front of the camera, something he credits the associations he made while playing at Saginaw High and for the University of Michigan.

"(Michigan) Coach (Lloyd) Carr helped prepare us because he made sure we carried ourselves in a certain way, that we always appeared professional," Woodley said. "He wanted us to succeed on and off the football field. Even now, I don't go on TV without wearing a collared shirt. It's just about being professional."

But it was at Saginaw High Woodley learned his first lessons about professionalism.

"I began making goals and thinking about bigger things when I was a freshman and saw everything that Charles Rogers was getting," Woodley said. "I did a search on the computer and all these stories came up about Charles and his rankings and all the visits he was making. I decided I wanted that, so I worked toward that.

"But the guy I tried to be like was Otis Washington. He just carried himself in a way that made people want to listen to him, be around him. He wasn't flashy or anything. He didn't need to be. He was a leader, and you wanted to be like him."

Former Saginaw High coach Don Durrett remembers the 1999 state championship football team, which featured Woodley, Rogers and Washington. Woodley, a linebacker, played for Michigan, while Rogers, a receiver, played for Michigan State. Washington, also a linebacker, played at Vanderbilt.

"They were leaders and they worked so hard," Durrett said. "I'd want to go home, but they'd go back out and run sprints because they didn't think they ran enough in practice. They wanted to be the best.

"Woodley learned a lot from that team, just in how to act, how to behave. We always talked about how God don't like ugliness. If something didn't go right, look and see what you've done wrong."

The message stayed with Woodley, to the point he refused to celebrate after he sacked the quarterback.

Until this year.

"I didn't want to waste the energy ... I just wanted to get back to the huddle and get ready for the next play," Woodley said. "But during training camp, one of the players said I needed one, so I kind of came up with something with a kick.

"I call it the 'door kick' like you're kicking in the door to get to the quarterback. It's not the high kick, because when you kick the door open, you aim for the middle, where the doorknob is."

Woodley looked forward to Wednesday's assembly at Saginaw High. He intends to continue coming back to visit the Trojans.

"It's where I'm from ... I've always come back to watch some games," Woodley said. "Until this year, I always made it back to watch a game at South (Middle School), because that's my school too. When I heard they were closing it down, I made it back to get some championship pictures. I even got a helmet from South.

"Everything I do, I do for the City of Saginaw. You'll see me back here watching games, and I'll be screaming and yelling. It's in my blood." v

Hugh Bernreuter is assistant sports editor for The Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9771 or e-mail him at hbernreuter@thesaginawnews.com.

stlrz d
02-19-2009, 12:36 AM
Woodley stopped at Saginaw High Wednesday to give students some advance and autographs. Saginaw High Athletic Director Lou Dawkins also announced that the school will retire Woodley's No. 56 football uniform.

Pretty cool. Got to keep his same number in HS, college and the NFL.

I was a TE/OLB in HS. I wanted 88, 82 or 89, in that order. All were taken. So was 84. I ended up with 85...Calvin Sweeney. :oops: