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Steelers

Kevin Gorman: Steelers' Stephon Tuitt wants to play superhero

Kevin Gorman
| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 9:30 p.m.
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt during OTA workouts June 6, 2018 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt during OTA workouts June 6, 2018 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
A dejected Steelers' Stephon Tuitt sits on the bench at the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
A dejected Steelers' Stephon Tuitt sits on the bench at the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 at Heinz Field.

Stephon Tuitt doesn't want to talk about his torn biceps, so he runs his right hand from his left shoulder to his wrist as proof that he is healed.

The Steelers defensive end would rather talk about superheroes. Or, at least, his favorite character from Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War.

“I feel like I'm more like Thanos,” Tuitt said of the movie's villain. “He's a superhero to me.”

Now that he's healthy, Tuitt has vowed for the 2018 season to be his Revenge Tour. After playing last season with essentially one arm, Tuitt declared his arm 100 percent. Now, he plans to punish Steelers opponents.

“I've been looking forward to contact,” Tuitt said. “It's like the superhero that falls down and you want to come back really bad, and everybody gets excited and he kicks (butt).

“That's a revenge tour.”

Sounds like someone who is healthy and motivated, not just to prove himself but to show the Steelers they made a wise investment.

What Tuitt learned was highs can be followed by lows. On Sept. 9, he signed a six-year, $61 million contract extension. A day later, in the season opener at Cleveland, he was injured on the second play.

What was feared to be a season-ending injury kept Tuitt from playing the next two games and two others, but it taught him how to become mentally tougher.

It was a powerful lesson.

Where Tuitt had only 25 tackles and three sacks — his goal was to record double-digit sacks — he overcame his frustration to play in 11 more games.

“To be honest, I'm not upset about it. I'm not sad about it anymore because it made me a better man and made me a better football player,” Tuitt said. “It doesn't matter the degree or what level it is, I had to overcome a situation more than just myself. It was bigger than myself. I played for my teammates.”

But the torn biceps sapped his strength and limited his ability to push and pull. The trying season, the first of his career limited by injury, taught Tuitt patience and perseverance and, he believes, made him tougher.

“That's what you love to see as a coach,” new Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar said. “The kid loves football. As a coach, you respect that. As a former player, you love that.”

The Steelers set a franchise record with 56 sacks last season without a healthy Tuitt.

“He wants to prove not only to everyone else but himself,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “He wants to be a guy that guys play for and to have a great season — and we expect that out of him.”

No one expects more out of Tuitt than he does.

“I believe this season will be my best season yet,” Tuitt said. “That's because of what I learned last year.”

Tuitt learned that, sometimes, a superhero falls down but the best revenge is coming back to kick butt.

That's a tour that should get everybody excited.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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