The grandpa of former Brigham Young Cougars in the NFL is Brett Keisel. He is in his 11th professional season—all with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL
spoke with Keisel the Diesel recently to ask him about his NFL career, his
abundance of charity work, and whether his Monday Night Football introduction
is a sign that he is at odds with BYU.
Despite Keisel advancing in age, his production has not slipped. He has 45 tackles on the season, which is already good enough for fourth best in his career. With one game to go, he can conceivably eclipse his third best tackles total (48 in 2011). Keisel’s 4.5 sacks this season is just one sack behind his career high of 5.5 (2006).
When asked about his personal success on the field this season, Keisel used one word to sum up the way he felt about it: blessed.
“I feel blessed to still go out and get the job done,” Keisel said. “I have enjoyed the season. It has been up and down, but we can still make the playoffs. It is an exciting time.”
Whether it has been making tackles, sacks, or pressuring the quarterback to make a bad throw, Keisel has made several big plays this season and in his career. He said he gets a “good feeling” every time he makes a big play, but one play in his long career stands out to him.
“My best play was my only touchdown [in 2010],” Keisel noted. “I returned an interception nearly 80 yards. It was an amazing feeling to get into the end zone.”
It was the first time since high school that he had scored a touchdown.
Chris Hoke played with Keisel at BYU and for ten years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hoke retired after the 2011 season. That makes one wonder if Keisel, despite the good stats, will follow suit soon.
“I have one more year on my contract,” Keisel informed
COUGAR FOOTBALL. “I am just shooting for that right now. We’ll see how things
However things pan out for Keisel, one thing is certain. He will do all that he can to give back. Keisel is very well known for his massive amounts of charity work. His motive for this charity work is simple.
“I feel blessed to be in this situation,” Keisel explained. “I was drafted by the Steelers 11 years ago. I’ve won a couple Super Bowls. The city and team has done a lot for me, and I want to give back as much as I can.”
Keisel’s most visible way of giving back is by growing out his beard during the football season. The beard has taken on a life of its own. He shaves it off at the end of the football season to raise money for the Children’s
Two years ago, the beard raised $40,000 for the hospital. Hospital of Pittsburgh
While he supports a litany of good causes, the homeless children’s education fund and cystic fibrosis are the other two that receive the most attention from Keisel.
Speaking of winning Super Bowls, what is it like to be world champions?
Predictably, Keisel said, “It is the greatest feeling ever, aside from marriage and seeing children being born. It is the most amazing feeling knowing you are the greatest in the world. It is addictive. Once you taste it you want to get back there.”
Clearly, Keisel will continue to give back to the community even after his playing days are done, but what else is in store for him?
“I would like to stay in football in some capacity,” Keisel explained. “We will probably stay in
We love this city; I love being a Steeler. I feel lucky having played my whole
career here. Our kids are entrenched here.”
He also added, “I got a lot of hunting and fishing to make up for.”
That is a lot of nice things about
and the Steelers organization, but what about BYU? Keisel grew up out west not
too far from BYU. Wouldn’t he want to be able to be closer to home and to BYU?
Maybe the lack of BYU in his future plans means the concern that some Cougar
fans have about Keisel and his alma mater being at odds is true.
For those who are unaware that some people feel this way, here is a brief explanation. On Monday Night Football the starting lineups are announced with a brief video of each player stating his name and where he played college football. In his MNF clip, Keisel doesn’t say BYU, but gives the name of his high school--
. Since there are rumors that BYU has had a falling out with some other prominent alumni in recent years, it was feared that the same might be true about Keisel. Greybull High
When told that mentioning his high school has caused some Cougar fans to think BYU and he had a strained relationship, Keisel wanted to make it clear that, “That is not true.”
He went on to explain, “That intro was filmed five years ago. I guess they don’t take the time to update their intros very often. They haven't asked me to do another one since. The one before was BYU. I thought I would switch it up to give my small town some love.”
Keisel is still very proud to be a BYU Cougar and claim the school as his alma mater. The validity of his statements is reinforced by the initial reaction
COUGAR FOOTBALL received from the Steelers’ Media Relations personnel who
arranged the interview. When told that this was a BYU football site, he said,
“Brett will probably be willing to do the interview, especially since it is for
Further evidence of Keisel’s loyalty to BYU is that he was aware of Ezekiel Ansah and his outstanding play this year.
“I am impressed with what he had done,” Keisel said. “I’m pulling for the kid.”
Would he fit in with the Steelers?
Whether the Steelers like Ansah's profile enough to draft him will be determined in four months. However, it is already determined that Keisel has a winning profile on and off the field. One that all BYU fans can be proud of.
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