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Ta'amu addresses Steelers regarding arrest

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 4:10 p.m.
Steelers nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu during mini camp on the South Side June 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Alameda Ta'amu was at the Steelers' practice facility Monday and apologized to teammates, but the organization remains mum on what punishment the rookie defensive lineman faces in the wake of multiple felony charges following an early-morning police chase over the weekend.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin informed the team about Ta'amu's arrest during a morning meeting, and according to some of his teammates, the 350-pound nose tackle apologized to his fellow defensive linemen during position meetings early Monday.

“I talked to him, and he was remorseful,” Casey Hampton said. “He feels really bad about it. He knows what happened was a bad thing. He made a mistake, and that's the way I look at it, not taking away what he did because it was a terrible thing. We have to ride with him and see what happens.”

Ta'amu, 22, was driving a sport utility vehicle that hit several cars on 14th Street on the South Side and was arrested about 2:30 a.m. Sunday after a chase and scuffle in which an officer punched him twice, according to Zone 3 police.

According to the police report, Ta'amu faces felony charges of fleeing police, aggravated assault while driving drunk and three counts of aggravated assault for nearly running down three police officers.

Ta'amu also was charged with 10 misdemeanors, including resisting arrest, attempting escape, drunken driving and failure to obey traffic laws. His blood alcohol level was 0.196 percent, more than twice the legal limit, police said. Ta'amu posted $25,000 bail and was released Sunday.

“It is a serious situation. It is a dangerous situation,” safety Ryan Clark said. “You are just happy that he didn't injure anybody or himself.”

The organization said it has no further comment regarding Ta'amu's situation.

While his teammates said that they will continue to support Ta'amu, they also understand the severity of his actions.

“It is a very serious situation, and that's how we are viewing it,” defensive captain Brett Keisel said. “Matters like these are touchy. I am glad I don't have to make those decisions because they are very serious. They have a tough call to make.”

Ta'amu was the Steelers' fourth-round pick this year out of the University of Washington. He is of Samoan descent, and his father is a retired pastor. Ta'amu made a connection with fellow Samoan Troy Polamalu.

Ta'amu, Polamalu and Clark bonded during training camp, and they routinely ate together and went to see movies.

Clark said he reached out to Ta'amu in a “nonjudgmental kind of way” Sunday, but refused to reveal details of the conversation.

“You don't ‘Amen' this as in it is OK to do, but you don't throw him away,” Clark said. “You don't exile him from the team, you don't stop talking to him, you don't stop being his friend because if you are family, you don't do that. I want to help him through this and help him be part of the Pittsburgh Steelers and, if that's possible, when he's back, he is going to be the same brother before this happened.”

Fellow nose tackle Steve McLendon said he was surprised to hear of Ta'amu's involvement in the incident. Ta'amu is widely regarded by his teammates as a down-to-earth family man with a pleasant demeanor.

“He has to be held accountable,” offensive tackle Max Starks said. “Something like this can happen to any of us. I am sure everybody has had the decision if you are OK (to drive or not).”

The Steelers refused to label Ta'amu's arrest as a possible distraction.

“That's overblown,” linebacker Larry Foote said. “We're grown men. We've just got to go out there and execute.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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