They like Steelers' Ike Taylor
GRETNA, La. -- The kids lined up, smiling and bright-eyed and hanging onto every word from Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
Taylor's seventh annual Face Me Ike football camp at Arden Cahill Academy in suburban New Orleans was moved indoors Friday because of lightning and rain, providing a small measure of relief on a scalding day. The locale hardly dampened the enthusiasm of the adoring student body, mesmerized by a hometown hero with fame, fortune and a pair of Super Bowl rings.
For Taylor, it provided another opportunity to give back to a community that prepared him for unfathomable success. It followed a pattern of community service that has been traced by many athletes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the recent oil spill.
"People from New Orleans, we're caring people. People are starting to recognize what we do for our city. It's one big family here," said Taylor, who played defensive end at nearby Abramson High and attended Louisiana-Lafayette. "You can have all the money you want, but all these kids want is our time.
"When Hurricane Katrina came through, that really touched me -- seeing how kids had to mature at an early age, had to help raise their families (at) 10, 12 years old, standing on top of cars."
Athletes in or from New Orleans seem to have a special affinity for giving back. They understand how much their support means to the people who have experienced more than their fair share of hard times and grief.
Saints defensive end Will Smith said it's pointless to have so much influence if you don't use it to help others. When the Saints were dispatched to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina, they visited New Orleans residents who had taken shelter in Houston.
More recently, the Saints visited Buras, La., to meet fishermen and shrimpers who are struggling financially after the oil spill. The Saints also announced they will raffle a Super Bowl ring to raise money for those affected.
"I think the guys who are from New Orleans -- whether they're born and raised here or whether they've become part of the community being a member of the Saints -- all seem to develop a passion for the community, for the city, for their teams," said agent Joel Segal, who attended Taylor's camp and represents several players with New Orleans ties, including Taylor, Smith and the Saints' Reggie Bush. "It invokes a special feeling of community, of being proud to be here, considering the trials and tribulations the city's been through."
Steelers assistant head coach John Mitchell also attended the camp. He said athletes don't always realize how much their involvement means to fans.
"Athletes make a lot of money. A lot of everyday people don't make a lot of money, and they need something to keep going," Mitchell said. "When they can get behind a team or a player, it adds a little joy to their lives. It can be a big deal."
The New Orleans City Council yesterday honored Taylor for donating 1,000 turkeys last Thanksgiving. He also was lauded by the mayor's office in recognition of his "many contributions to the community and the city's recovery."
Taylor said he traveled to New Orleans on his day off to deliver turkeys with the blessing of coach Mike Tomlin.
"New Orleans people are down-to-earth, genuine people," he said. "It's a kindhearted city, and I've got a soft heart for people in need. If you're here long enough, it will rub off on you."
Arden Cahill, co-founder of the academy, said permitting Taylor to host the camp (which included light football instruction, a visit from the Xavier (La.) University women's basketball team, a mini-car show and full-course meal, New Orleans-style) on campus benefits her students.
"It's important for those children to see what someone can accomplish," Cahill said. "It's very uplifting."
The work of Taylor and other athletes hasn't gone unnoticed.
"We have the Saints, but it means even more when a pro athlete from here gives back," said Gary Ballier of the New Orleans Fire Department.
Cornerback Deshea Townsend, who played 12 seasons with the Steelers, attended Taylor's camp with second-year corner and New Orleans native Keenan Lewis. Townsend said it's a shame that athletes' good deeds are overshadowed when others find trouble.
"This shows how NFL players make the front page for bad reasons, but this (camp) is what it's all about," he said. "The main thing is letting kids know you care about them -- that if they set goals and have dreams, they can achieve."
Show commenting policy
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.
- Steelers are banking on linebackers to improve strength of defense
- Kaboly: Steelers fill biggest needs by drafting defensive players
- Penn State tight end James, a South Allegheny grad, goes to Steelers in 5th round
- Steelers notebook: Harrison will play fewer snaps this season
- Steelers draft WR from Auburn in 3rd round
- Steelers get their corner with Mississippi’s Golson
- Steeler draft analysis: There’s no excuse for no 1st-round cornerback
- Steelers focus on defense on final day of NFL Draft
- Steelers introduce No. 1 pick Dupree
- Rossi: Steelers’ need also was a pass rusher