Face it, no matter what you may think, every football player has a favorite team growing up. Very few players who reach the NFL level look back and say, “I didn’t really have a favorite team growing up.” No, instead they talk about how growing up in Texas they loved the Cowboys, or how in the Bay area they loved the 49ers.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
For Pittsburgh Steelers 3rd round pick Justin Layne, he grew up in Cleveland rooting for the Browns. His family were, and I use past tense intentionally, huge Browns fans until the Steelers called his name with their third round selection.
In fact, Layne was wearing some Cleveland Browns socks on his feet before the phone rang with a 412 area code. He quickly ditched the orange and brown to don the black-and-gold.
.@_jlayne put on his @steelers hat and took off his @Browns socks. Pittsburgh selected the #Benedictine product with the 83rd overall pick of the #NFLDraft.— Pat Chiesa (@PatChiesa) April 27, 2019
To say Layne has a chip on his shoulder would be an understatement. @wkyc @WKYCSports #Steelers #Browns pic.twitter.com/8xQkVtYbej
In his conference call with the Pittsburgh media, he was asked what his father thought of all this, considering his fandom prior to the NFL Draft.
“My dad threw away all his Browns stuff. He already has all of his Steelers stuff on him right now. We are ready, we are switching it up.”
Putting family fandom aside, Layne is excited to be a part of the Steelers, a move he felt coming throughout the pre-draft process.
“Yeah, I did. I felt that from the beginning.” He told the media. “I talked to the coaching staff, Coach Tomlin a lot at the Combine. Even at my pre-draft visits, I kind of had a feeling and knew they were going to get me.”
When asked why he had that feeling, his response was simple. “I don’t know. It was just a feeling I had. It was in my dream and just what I felt. I felt like I was going to go against our rivals and they are the rivals to the Browns.”
Playing at Michigan State, the Trojans and Wolverines of Michigan don’t mix. And the Michigan State team doesn’t think too fondly of Mr. Devin Bush. If you recall, it was Bush who stomped, kicked and tried to destroy the Michigan State emblem at midfield before the Michigan/Michigan State game this year.
Does Layne hold any animosity over the incident with his now teammate?
“I trained with him at EXOS and that’s my guy. I can’t wait to compete with him and win some games with him. That’s what happens when you compete and have a dominate competitor. I can’t wait to compete with him, that’s my boy. I have all respect for him.”
I think it is safe to say the Steelers fan base is excited to see if these two defenders can improve their unit in 2019, and help them not just get back to the playoffs, but back to the Super Bowl.