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Superstars like T.J. Watt have a burning desire for greatness

Not every attribute of a prospect can accurately be measured at the 2022 NFL Combine.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“There is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There’s no prosthetic for that.” - Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pachino) Scent of a Women.

To put it into football lingo, when the passion wanes it's time to hang up the cleats. It varies from player to player, and the timing is impossible to predict. Recently, Pro Bowl players like Andrew Luck, Patrick Willis, and Luke Kuechly have surprisingly decided to retire in the prime of their careers. Injuries and CTE concerns have played a huge part in many of these shocking retirements. Any player must be fully committed to succeed at the NFL level. Anything less than that, and it's time to walk away.

Only the individual truly knows the level of their commitment, but superior effort is usually pretty easy to see. The same could be said about any half hearted efforts. We have all seen individuals merely going through the motions trying to collect a paycheck, both on the playing field and in the private sector. We have also seen plenty of individuals go above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done.

An example of this type of effort was Steelers outside linebacker Greg Lloyd in Super Bowl XXX against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had the most dominant offensive line I have every seen. They were all well over three hundred lbs., which was uncommon for that era. The whole offensive line made the Pro Bowl that season. Guard Larry Allen was the strongest player the NFL has ever seen. The Cowboys had a huge advantage in the trenches the moment they stepped on the field. Defensive linemen not named Reggie White struggled to be effective.

Greg Lloyd is a Steelers legend, deservingly so. He was a proud man, and a ferocious competitor. He was at a huge size disadvantage against the Cowboys massive linemen, but he was determined to set the edge enough to at least hinder NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys dominant running game. The Cowboys ran at Lloyd early and often, and Lloyd dove deep in his bag of tricks trying desperately to compete. He dove, ducked, and dodged trying to make an impact. He sacrificed his production for the betterment of the team. Levon Kirkland stuffed the stat sheet and highlights, but players like Lloyd and Aaron Smith gave impressive efforts.

Lloyd was obviously incredibly frustrated throughout the game. It's one thing to give everything you have to give and still get run over by a runaway freight train repeatedly, but another thing altogether when you lose the game on top of it. I watched Lloyd give plenty of impressive efforts throughout his Steelers career, and make tons of game changing plays on defense. His effort in that Super Bowl was truly impressive if not productive.

I was reminded of Lloyd's effort in that Super Bowl on multiple occasions last season when watching T.J. Watt continue to battle valiantly through various groin injuries that hampered his productivity in numerous contest. He tied the NFL record for QB sacks in a season with 22.5 total, despite missing two full games and at least the second half in two others. He persevered through a couple of games at no where near 100% because he knew that his team desperately needed him on the field, displaying incredible toughness.

He was being held consistently, double and even triple teamed regularly, but he knew his presence created favorable matchups for his teammates. Whether they were talented enough to take advantage of those matchups is another story. Sadly in many cases they were not. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Alex Highsmith ended up carry far more than the lions share of the load.

There are always two sides to every coin. On one hand, you have T.J. Watt's Herculean efforts, on the other you have the complete opposite. Players whose efforts were much harder to identify. Refusing to acknowledge their struggles or shortcomings. Defending their performance on social media and attempting to deflect personal responsibility.

The Steelers have been blessed with numerous superstar performers through the years that have seemingly reached the pinnacle of their profession, only to tirelessly continue trying to add to their arsenal and striving for perfection. The Steelers have a few individuals who are borderline obsessive about improving at their craft. Hard work pays dividends in the end. The Steelers need to move on from anyone merely collecting a paycheck, or not completely committed.

With the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine just around the corner, it's imperative to remember one truth. It's impossible to measure every important attribute of a player at the Combine. Courage and desire shows up on game film more so than drills. The film matters.