Share This Page

Steelers' DeAngelo Williams offers encouragement in visit to Egypt

| Wednesday, March 2, 2016, 7:57 p.m.

CAIRO — Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams stood at Cairo American College, a school for pre-K through 12th-graders, and talked with a teacher wearing a Cincinnati Bengals jersey.

“We played football,” he told the Bengals fan Wednesday about the teams' last brutal meeting in the playoffs. “You played dirty.”

Off to the side, junior student Maheen Ahmed, 18, waited nervously.

“I don't follow football,” she said, “but I know the work he has done with breast cancer. My mother has breast cancer. ... I know about the controversy over his uniform.

“I've seen everything you've done,” she said as she snapped a selfie with Williams. “It has just meant a lot to me and my mother.”

Williams and nine current or former NFL players are in Cairo as part of efforts by American Football Without Barriers to conduct a training camp for Egyptian players. Williams is the organization's developmental director.

The players mixed with the school's students before visiting a children's cancer hospital.

Williams' mother and four of his aunts died from breast cancer. In October, the NFL fined him for wearing “Find the Cure” eye-black stickers, describing it as a uniform violation. His hair is highlighted pink to show support for breast-cancer awareness.

“I think it is a selfless act for them to come here and share their sport,” said sixth-grade teacher Andrew Kasel. “Our students are really excited that they are here.

“We have this impression that football players have big egos, but it is a false impression.”

The players urged the students to maintain good grades, try different sports, play safely and stay motivated.

“We get it from people telling us what we can't do,” Williams told them. “Don't let anyone put a ceiling on what you can do.”

One student wondered what the athletes would do if they didn't play football.

Their responses included working construction, working with kids, being a banker or professional surfing.

Williams said he would be an accountant: “I like playing with numbers because they all add up.”

Later, during a bus ride to the hospital, Williams said he visited orphanages and other institutions on previous trips, but “when I found out it was a cancer hospital, my face lit up, and it quite lifted my spirits.”

He was surprised and pleased Ahmed, the girl at the school, knew about his work with breast-cancer awareness.

“Just seeing her eyes and her body language let me know that what I'm doing and what I stand for is working,” Williams said.

As the players distributed gifts to young patients, Williams said no team represented on the trip “is more decorated or celebrated or prestigious” than the Steelers.

“I'm pretty sure the Steelers stuff (black-and-gold sock monkeys) will be in high demand,” he said.

Wearing masks in a chemotherapy ward, the players handed out gifts.

Williams gently placed a Steelers sock monkey on the lap of a small boy, who smiled broadly.

Then, after asking how to say “coloring book” in Arabic, he quietly confessed: “Just to help someone in another country is amazing.”

Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. Reach her at bhiel@tribweb.com .

Betsy Hiel | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams gives a Steelers sock monkey to a patient in Children's Cancer Hospital 57357 in Cairo. Williams is in Cairo with nine other NFL players as part of the American Football Without Barriers organization. They also are holding a training camp in Cairo.
Betsy Hiel | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams poses with a Steelers sock monkey, which will be given to children at Children's Cancer Hospital 57357 in Cairo. William is with nine other NFL players as part of the American Football Without Barriers organization. The players also will hold a football camp.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.