Given the media hungry nature of some of his teammates, James Conner has been something of a revelation for the Pittsburgh Steelers both on and off the field. While still one of the younger players on the squad, the former Pitt Panther carries himself with a maturity that belies his age at times and a sense of humility that is refreshing to see.
With the Steelers on a bye, Conner has been heavily in demand from the press as of late and with a few days off from work, the star on the rise was a guest on a number of TV sports talk shows over the past few days. In New York to attend some business meetings, as he told the hosts of Fox Sports 1’s “First Thing First”, Conner also made time to stop by the set to talk about his impressive season so far.
Multiple clips have appeared on social media, but this is the full 13 minute interview.
Discussing topics ranging from his relationships with Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell to being an inspiration to those battling cancer, the interview provided an interesting insight to one of the less outspoken players on the roster.
Despite growing up relatively locally to Pittsburgh in Erie, Pennsylvania and attending the University of Pittsburgh, Conner was not actually a fan of the Steelers as a child. When discussing the running backs he modeled his game after, it was the player on his favorite team who was the inspiration for his style.
“I grew up a Cowboys fan, I’m all Steelers now, but growing up, Emmitt Smith was my guy.”
Forgiving him for his poor taste in his youth, Conner clearly appreciates playing for a team with such a large fanbase all over the world.
“Steeler Nation is real, it’s everywhere. We went out to a kids camp out in Cancun this year and we get off the plane out there and people in Mexico are coming up to us, it’s just, it’s real. Unbelievable to play for, I don't take it for granted. Everytime I put on the Black-and-Gold it’s a special special thing to be a part of. I’m just so thankful I’m a Steeler.”
With questions about Bell to be expected, the affection he has for his teammate is obvious when speaking about him. The two running backs have remained in contact with each other throughout the season, with Bell offering him praise and advice after each game via text message. However, of all the questions he was asked about Bell, there was one he had no answer to - when would Bell be back?
“No clue, no clue”