View Full Version : Nice story about "Big Play" Willie Gay

11-13-2011, 05:17 PM
a nice story about Willie Gay and a great interception to seal the victory in today's game... :tt2

From hardship, Steelers' Gay shares hope

Sunday, November 13, 2011


In a five-minute video he participated in for a domestic abuse campaign, William Gay talks about going to the hospital after his mother was shot and asking repeatedly why he couldn't see her. He talks about the devastation of losing his mother at such a young age.

Go ahead and trash William Gay on a message board. Light up the cornerback who, even in the midst of a solid season, is the most likely Steeler to be torched on sports-talk radio.

But before you eviscerate the player beaten on the Ravens' winning touchdown a week ago, draw back the curtain and look at the man.

Go back to last November, when Gay arrived at a Pittsburgh shelter to serve Thanksgiving dinner.

Look at the arch of his eyebrows when Barbara Nicholas, the development director of the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, informs him he is at a haven for abused women.

Watch Gay tell his story to women with cuts and bruises that are as raw as their psyche is wounded.

Gay tells them how brave they are for leaving a bad situation, something his mother tried to do when she was fatally shot. He tells them how courageous they are for taking refuge in a building where some of the windows are bulletproof.

He later stops at every table, individually talking with the women and children.

He listens to them. He hugs them. He understands them.

"It was just so real," said Nicholas, her voice catching a bit at the recollection. "It was such a genuine moment for everyone."

Moments such as these are why Joe Whitt Jr. wonders whether fans would be so tough on Gay if they knew what he has had to overcome. Whitt was Gay's position coach at Louisville. They have taken different paths to the NFL but remain close.

"People can say what they want about the football player -- that's fine," said Whitt, who is in his second season as Green Bay's secondary coach. "But the character, the man? You can't say anything about the man because I know what he is. I know I couldn't go through the things he's had to work through."

Rising from the depths

Here's something you might not know about William Gay: He graduated from Louisville in 3 1/2 years with a degree in sports administration.

He never took fewer than 15 credits in a semester despite the demands of major college football. And he always picked his own classes.

"I didn't want to be that guy that had to depend on academic advisors telling me what I need to take, telling me what I don't have to take because of football," Gay said.

That need for control may stem from the time he didn't have it.

In 1992, Gay was 7 years old and living in Tallahassee, Fla. His mother was in an abusive relationship with his stepfather. The day she tried to leave, he shot her, then turned the gun on himself.

Carolyn Hall was 30 years old.

The bottom dropped out of Gay's world. He moved in with his grandmother, into an already crowded house where space was so tight that Gay sometimes shared a bedroom with three others.

He lashed out for the next couple of years. He fought constantly and caused enough trouble that he nearly got kicked out of school.

The turning point came when his grandmother and an uncle told Gay he was on a track toward jail. Or worse.

Life is unfair, they told him. Get over it.

"I had to change, actually grow up," Gay said. "I wanted to succeed in life."

He became a good student, excelled in sports and earned a scholarship to Louisville.

He started parts of four seasons. He showed so much football acumen that he called the defensive signals as a senior -- almost unheard of for a cornerback. He also intercepted six passes his final season.

The Steelers drafted him in the fifth round in 2007. Gay has played in every game in five NFL seasons. He will make his 28th career start today in Cincinnati.

He is plugged in enough to social and mainstream media to realize that his 28 starts are 28 too many for some people. Gay is largely indifferent to the criticism; he has dealt with much worse. He will talk about his story, as deeply personal as it is, but he doesn't "broadcast" it.

"I don't want to use it as an excuse or something to say, 'If I don't do this, it's because of this,' " he said. "I hate to make excuses."

Criticism 'unwarranted'

One way to get blocked from Ryan Clark's Twitter account is to trash William Gay on it. And not just because of his backstory.

"I think a lot of the criticism he gets is unwarranted," said Clark, a Steelers free safety. "Yeah, people have made plays. People make plays on a lot of cornerbacks. But I think, as well as he's playing this season, that needs to be recognized also."

Gay, who signed a one-year deal in August, has allowed 23 catches in the 39 times (59 percent) his receiver has been targeted this season, according to STATS, LLC. Only one Steelers player has allowed a higher percentage of completions: Troy Polamalu, who has yielded 23 catches on 36 targets (63.9).

Gay had largely stayed under the radar until last Sunday. Ravens rookie receiver Torrey Smith got behind the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder late in the fourth quarter and caught the winning touchdown before a stunned Heinz Field crowd. Clark had been late in helping Gay on the play.

Gay took responsibility for the touchdown immediately after the 23-20 loss. He did the same thing three days later.

What didn't register much more than a blip was what had happened earlier on the Ravens' winning drive: Smith slipped behind cornerback Ike Taylor, who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, but dropped Joe Flacco's pass in the end zone.

"People don't know football. They don't come in on Mondays and watch what we see," said Taylor, who works out with Gay during the offseason. "Gay has gotten a whole lot better. I know how hard he worked in the offseason, and it's showing."

Active off the field

In a five-minute video he participated in for a domestic abuse campaign, Gay talks about going to the hospital after his mother was shot and asking repeatedly why he couldn't see her. He talks about the devastation of losing his mother at such a young age.

"If I had another chance to see my mother today, I would tell her that I love her and I know the courage she had to try to get out of her situation," Gay says. "I would tell her I truly believed in her."

Gay has done what he can to combat domestic abuse, the leading cause of injury among women 15-44 in the United States, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. He has donated his time for several public-service announcements. He is slated to speak to judges, parole officers and counselors, among others, about the need for preventive measures.

Gay has given the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh a face for its campaign to combat domestic abuse. He also provides an example to kids living with domestic abuse and the sense of hopelessness that accompanies it.

"It's just great to have someone who is so thoughtful and considerate and really wise for how young he is to step forward," Nicholas said, "and do something so courageous and so meaningful -- not just for the women, but for the children."

Gay will return to the shelter in the coming weeks to serve dinner. He again will thank the women and children. He will tell them they are braver than they think. He will shine some desperately needed light into their lives.

Moments like these, away from the public, are why Whitt said, Gay "is somebody that I want my son to grow up to be like."

The son who grew up without his mother rolled up the jersey on his left arm after practice recently. He revealed a tattoo of a cross, framed by his mother's name and the date of her death.

"I know she's watching every day," Gay said. "It just brings joy to me that I'm doing things positive, and I know she's smiling. We'll be reunited one day."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1dcOpicd2 (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_767079.html#ixzz1dcOpicd2)

11-13-2011, 05:45 PM
What a good guy.

I always think the fans are a bit hard on Gay. He's not great, but IMO he has performed very well this season.

If we want to talk weak links in the secondary, look no further than #25...

11-13-2011, 05:49 PM
The board may be hard on him as a football player; but no one (at least to my recollection) has ever said anything negative about the "man" Willie Gay. That's an incredible story, he's overcome a lot to get where he is right now, that's awesome.

And, to boot, he makes the big play today!


11-13-2011, 05:54 PM
Great article. I always like to hear stories of the players' lives off the field. Also, great game today!

11-13-2011, 05:57 PM
Great article. I always like to hear stories of the players' lives off the field. Also, great game today!

Particularly, when the story could have ended horribly for Willie. He has a lot of character to overcome adversity like that, it's possible, but it takes a special person. Cheers to Willie Gay. :Cheers


11-13-2011, 06:57 PM
What a good guy.

I always think the fans are a bit hard on Gay. He's not great, but IMO he has performed very well this season.

If we want to talk weak links in the secondary, look no further than #25...

And you're being a little bit hard on Clark. The hardest hitting safety in the game.

11-13-2011, 07:21 PM
God Bless Willie Gay. His story is great, and puts things in perspective for me. His resilience is incredible. What strength of character!

11-13-2011, 08:29 PM
Can't deny the effect Carnell Lake has had on these young DBs. Their game has really improved since he took over. Nothing like learning from the master.

11-13-2011, 10:05 PM
Gay saves the day in Cincinnati

By Mike Prisuta - WDVE-FM

CINCINNATI – Cornerback William Gay was interested in the victory, not the particulars.

One week after being victimized, along with free safety Ryan Clark, on a game-winning, 26-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds against Baltimore, Gay tipped one pass into the waiting arms of linebacker Lawrence Timmons and intercepted another in what became a nail-biting, 24-17 victory over the Bengals on Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium.

“We just won, man,” Gay maintained. “I don’t care what I did. We got a victory. We just all played some great football.”

Gay’s tip to Timmons stopped in its tracks a Bengals’ possession that had started at the Steelers’ 47-yard line with 12:22 remaining in regulation. Gay’s interception occurred off a second-and-9 snap from the Steelers’ 25-yard line with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Gay never admitted to seeing that attempted pass from quarterback Andy Dalton to wide receiver Jerome Simpson coming. But apparently quarterback Byron Leftwich did.

“Byron Leftwich was standing next to me (on the sideline) and he said, ‘C’mon, Will, under-cut this,’” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reported. “Next thing you know Byron was hitting me, ‘I told you, I told you.’

“It was a heck of a play. It was a game-changer for us.”

The Bengals never got the ball back.

Gay finished with three tackles, the interception and four passes defensed. But he vowed to get over this latest performance just as quickly as he had what transpired against the Ravens.

“You have to,” Gay said. “We have to put this win behind us, go into the bye week and get some rest and then come back and watch some film on Kansas City.”

Video study prior to the Cincinnati game and paying attention throughout the first three-plus quarters apparently positioned Gay to jump that Dalton-to-Simpson route at just the right time.

At least that was Clark’s theory.

The Steelers were aware Bengals rookie wide receiver A.J. Green (knee) was out of the game, Clark said, and that Cincinnati had been far more likely to throw quick routes over the middle, down the seams or to the sidelines rather than go deep even when Green had been playing.

“We saw that a lot,” Clark said. “Will finally got a bead on it. He just jumped the route and made an amazing play to win the game.”

Added strong safety Troy Polamalu: “I thought it was a case of reading and reacting to make a play. He played really well today and he made a game-winning interception.”

Although Gay wasn’t interested in the redemption angle in the wake of the Baltimore debacle, the defense’s ability to turn the Bengals over deep in Steelers’ territory just before the two-minute warning wasn’t lost on defensive coordinator D!ck LeBeau.

“We kind of owed ’em one,” LeBeau said, presumably referencing the Steelers because of the outcome of the Ravens game. “I thought our guys would answer the next time we had a chance.

“I was proud of them. They came through when they had to.”

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 0165ef2176 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Gay-saves-the-day-in-Cincinnati/b6b8d64f-8180-4c95-addd-840165ef2176)

11-13-2011, 11:28 PM
I still think, given his physical limitations, that Willie Gay might one day make a fair FS... until then, I still think of him as Deshea-lite..

11-13-2011, 11:57 PM
Sometimes Gay makes the play, sometimes he looks like a lottery winner getting to play pro ball. It's great he has overcome so much in his life and can be humble when the time is right. I applaud him for all he has done to help those off the field.

However, I'll talk like a internet tough guy when he blows coverage or cant cover a rookie (although Clark should have been in position on that Smith TD). I pay money for what he does on the field, not off it and that's why I'll continue to ride his butt until he is consistent enough to deserve my silence and praise.

11-14-2011, 03:13 AM
Gay is Digest Player of Week

By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest

Coach Mike Tomlin has been talking about wanting the Steelers to make what he calls a defining defensive play. What William Gay did with 2:33 left in the game last Sunday in Cincinnati qualifies as that.

With the Bengals facing a second-and-9 from the Steelers 25-yard line and trailing by 24-17, quarterback Andy Dalton tried to get the ball quickly to wide receiver Jerome Simpson. But Gay got a good read on the play, and he cut in front of Simpson to make the interception that allowed the Steelers offense to come onto the field and close out the game with a couple of first downs.

In addition to that interception, Gay also deflected another Dalton pass that Lawrence Timmons ended up intercepting, and he also had three tackles and three other passes defensed. Gay is the Steelers Digest Player of the Week.

Also considered were Rashard Mendenhall, who had 70 yards from scrimmage and two rushing touchdowns; Antonio Brown, who caught five passes for 86 yards; and Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 21-of-33 for 245 yards, with one touchdown and one interception that came of a deflected pass.

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... db6d926594 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Gay-is-Digest-Player-of-Week/ce4bb0bb-ea87-40c1-a480-5adb6d926594)

11-14-2011, 09:39 AM
Gay had a great rookie season. He played well as nickel back in another season. He struggles as a starting corner because he has poor recovery speed and size. But, he has been better than McFadden for certain.

Gene Jtown
11-14-2011, 10:11 AM
That was the best game I've seen William Gay play the past four years. Hopefully he can build on yesterday's game and continue to improve going forward. When you "Play for Pay", it's "What can you do for me today" that matters, not yesterday!

11-19-2011, 02:23 PM
Saddling Up with William Gay


A coup’la few years ago Steelers cornerback William Gay had a rough ride. After taking over for Bryant McFadden who departed for Arizona, William became the starter and quickly learned the ups and downs of being a “1-16? guy (starter throughout the season).

Part of the difficulty of starter-dom is the fact of NFL life that if you are off on a given day and the opposition smells blood, that you are a weak link, they will come after you unmercifully. And if you don’t rebound quickly with a performance that slams the door, they will continue to come after you.

Not only that, but there comes with it the media and public scrutiny that accompanies a high profile postion like cornerback where the slightest mistake costs you and your team a quick-six. It takes a lot of inner strength to man-up to a sub-par performance and not let’em see you bleed.

To survive the rigors of NFL life requires the ability to neither get too high after a win, nor too low after a loss. And also the personal challenge of the inevitable bad game that most certainly will come your way. How you handle that bit of adversity will be quite telling as to your longevity. The ability to rebound from a bad performance and quickly “get back on the horse” spells the difference between a long career and a short one. If you are not tough enough to handle some adversity, you don’t have a prayer of making it.

That’s why i was so interested in checking out William’s rebound performance after enduring what he described as the “worst series of my life” against Joe Flacco and the Ravens on that 92-yard game winning drive.

Flash forward from the Ravens game to Cincinnati and William assissting on Lawrence Timmons first interception of the season and then applying the Mike Tomlin “Signature stop” by picking off Andy Dalton to close out the game with his first intereception since ’09.

That’s what you call “saddling up.” Well played young man, well played…

http://craigwolfley.com/2011/11/saddlin ... lliam-gay/ (http://craigwolfley.com/2011/11/saddling-up-with-william-gay/)