Townsend prepares for life after football

| Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Veteran cornerback Deshea Townsend hasn't given up hope of returning to the Steelers in 2010.

Townsend, who turns 35 in September, was surprised when he wasn't retained for the upcoming season.

"I did kind of expect to be back, just to add some depth at the position," he said. "They know there's a player out there they don't really have to teach the system, that can come in and play."

Townsend, a fourth-round draft pick from Alabama who played 12 seasons with the Steelers, lost his starting job when he was converted to nickel back after the emergence of William Gay.

Since then, the Steelers have selected three cornerbacks in the past two drafts. They also reacquired former starter Bryant McFadden.

Those moves resulted in Townsend — the oldest cornerback on the roster — not being invited to return.

Townsend said he wouldn't mind playing for the Steelers again — or any other team.

He started the final two games in 2009, grabbing an interception in the final game against Miami.

"Pittsburgh is home. You always want to be where you started," said Townsend, who has been working out with speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw in Florida. "If something happens in training camp ... maybe. My agent said just stay in shape. I had some conversations (with teams). There's always going to be a need for a corner somewhere."

Townsend realizes he may have played his final NFL game. He said he's comfortable knowing he may have to get on with the rest of his life.

"I've always looked at the entire picture, understanding this game is not going to last forever. It's always been a business for me," Townsend said.

"I want to play one or two more years. But if it doesn't happen, I have a lot of other stuff going on with health care and doing a lot of work with my foundation."

Townsend developed a foundation that helps children who do not have health insurance and sponsors events that work with preventive care.

Townsend would like to remain connected with the Steelers. He said his extensive playing experience has prepared him for a scouting or front-office position.

Townsend's coaches considered him a coach on the field because of his ability to decipher the entire defense.

"I've always been the type of player when a young guy comes in, I try to give him everything I know to help make him a better player," Townsend said. "That's the same thing our coaches do. That could be a natural move for me."

While the possibility of becoming a coach appeals to Townsend, he has loftier goals.

"My ultimate goal is it would be great to be the next Kevin Colbert," said Townsend, referring to the Steelers' director of football operations who's in charge of personnel decisions.

"To be like Kevin, to be like (Baltimore's) Ozzie Newsome, a general manager who understands what type of players teams need and go out and find them."

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