Penn Hills alum Tumulty inducted into Pa. Sports Hall of Fame
Tom Tumulty knows how most of the young men taken in last week's NFL Draft felt.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” he said of the time spent waiting to see when and if he would be chosen by a professional football team.
“You get lots of calls from a lot of people … But you just never know,” he said.
As it turned out, Tumulty's time in the NFL was relatively short: the linebacker was a sixth-round pick and spent three seasons starting for the Bengals from 1996 to 1998 before being sidelined with a knee injury.
Between his time at Penn Hills, the University of Pittsburgh and the NFL, Tumulty, 41, earned himself a place in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame's Western Chapter, which held a May 3 induction ceremony in Mars, where he now lives.
Tumulty, who worked in finance after leaving the NFL and is now an executive at Frankenstein Builder Supply in Zelienople, said he misses being on the field, but “I was just kind of tired of worrying about my knee,” he said. “I loved the game and I kind of had a plan with taking my education seriously. I miss the guys, I miss first-and-one on the 1-yard line, but I had a much easier transition than a lot of guys.”
Another thing Tumulty misses is playing against the NFL team he grew up rooting for, the Steelers.
“That was the craziest thing,” he said. “I'm an Irish boy from Pittsburgh who was a diehard Steeler fan, and to get drafted by a rival in the same division was very hard.”
Tumulty said he'll never forget the first time he jogged around Three Rivers Stadium.
Then-Steelers head coach Bill Cowher leaned in as the two passed and said, “Hi, Tommy.”
“It occurred to me all of a sudden: I'm in this stadium, about to play this team,” Tumulty said. “Of course, you forget quickly when Dermontti Dawson is trying to rip your head off, but it was a fantastic experience.”
Tumulty, who is also a member of the East Boros Chapter, said it is an honor to become a Western Pennsylvania Chapter member.
“The names of the people in those halls is incredible,” he said. “But it's a great chance to reflect and reminisce. It forces you, for that day, to think about things like waiting for your dad to come home from work so you could play catch.
“I sat there and remembered the first time I went to Notre Dame, or the feeling of making a play against the Steelers in your hometown.”
Tumulty said his best piece of advice for young athletes is to be great at what you can control.
“Things like working out, watching film, if you have the opportunity to be great at it, do it,” he said.
“Because if you're prepared and excellent at what you can control, it may help with some of the things you can't control.”
In addition to playing football, Tumulty was a three-sport star at Penn Hills, participating in baseball and wrestling.
He was 1991 Big East Rookie of the Year at the University of Pittsburgh, and a two-time finalist for the Dick Butkus Award.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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