PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Jesse James remembers as an 11-year-old growing up in the Pittsburgh suburbs watching tight end Heath Miller and his hometown Steelers defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
A decade later, James, a rookie fifth-round pick embarking on his first tentative steps in the NFL, finds himself learning the ropes from the guy he studied so closely.
“It has been great and the Steelers are a great organization,” James said. “There isn’t a better place to play football.”
Miller, the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2005, was a fresh-faced rookie during the team’s run to a fifth Super Bowl title. He has appeared in two more Super Bowls since, helping the Steelers win a league-best sixth championship during the 2008 season. He’s well aware his role morphed from newcomer to mentor long ago. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right?
“I think I’ve probably seen all the looks that I can see and been in all types of different situations,” said the 11-year veteran. “There’s a comfort level in knowing that and recognizing things and having a feel for what is about to happen before it happens.”
The 32-year-old two-time Pro Bowlers realizes he is on the back end of his career, but he’s not ready to hang up his cleats.
“I just try to approach each year and try not to think about the future,” Miller said. “I’m focused on this year and I guess when the time is right, maybe I’ll know. Right now, I’m all in for this year.”
That’s good news for James, a 21-year-old who attended nearby South Allegheny High School and played college football at Penn State.