Part of a semi-regular series of short interviews with Steelers players. Today: Guard, center and occasional fullback, Doug Legursky.
An undrafted free agent out of Marshall in 2008, Legursky's "positional flexibility" as Mike Tomlin likes to say, has made him invaluable for the Steelers playing whereever and whenever they need him on the inside, and occassionally paving ways to touchdowns as a fullback. He famously got his first-ever NFL start at center in a game of some minor consequence -- Super Bowl XLV.
Legursky talks about the intracacies of line play, and with the help of rookie practice squad lineman John Malecki, explains the 'Short White Guy Shout Out' that you'll here from time to time around the Steelers' locker room.
1. At the Heroes at Heinz Field event this week, you were wearing an Army cap with your name on it. What is the story behind that?LEGURSKY: My buddy Steven Bailey -- he was really good friends with my teammates at Marshall University. They played high school ball together and grew up together. He’s been through three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and when he’s not serving our country overseas, he’s an instructor for Blackwater in Virginia Beach. He sent the hat over to me, so I've been wearing it to support him ever since. His first tour was one of my early years at Marshall Univeristy. He sent over my necklace that I wear every day (of a bullet) in support of him and everybody overseas and at home protecting our freedom.
2. Offensive line is underrated for its complexity -- take me through what happens on a play before the snap.
LEGURSKY: There's a lot of things. First of all, you've got your play. So you know your assignments from that play. Lets say you have a running play called. With that, you have adjustments to whatever defense they’re in, so if they’re in a certain defense, you run it like this. If they’re in a different defense you have to run it this way, or a if it's a different defense you have to run it that way. So you have to analyze the defense, get the ID from the center. Or make the ID if you are the center. And then execute your game plan from there.
In pass stuff it's all about their movement – where they’re at on the ball. Communicate and get the job done. So it’s a lot of thinking about what you have to do to stop them. That works with technique – the guy you’re going against, what technique he might use. And then what technique you might use to defeat it.
That’s [all] about a half a second right there, and then the ball’s snapped. Then you gotta go. Then you gotta win the attack.
3. What's it like down in the trenches?
LEGURSKY: I definitely like being down in the trenches. Some of the best plays we’ve had this season so far – we had a third & 1 and a fourth & 1 during preseason. In Denver we had a fourth & inches, we had a quarterback sneak we had to make. Those are probably the three most fun plays we’ve had this whole time. Its all about one-on-one stuff and trying to blow the defense off the ball. If you get the job done, you get some pride about yourself.
It definitely gets dirty. There’s a lot of clawing, a lot of scratching, some eye gouging maybe. [John] Malecki is the dirtiest dude of them all – Short White Guy Shout Out to John Malecki – talk about the third & one and fourth & one in the preseason, and he’s blowing linebackers off the ball. Maybe a couple shots to the undercarriage. You never know. Somebody’s got to do it. A dirty Pitt guy.
& OUT: So what, exactly, is the Short White Guy Shout Out?
Malecki: Give him the standards.
Legursky: Standards: You have to be ... short.
BNG: You mean 'NFL short' or regular people short? (note: Legursky lists as 6'1"; Malecki as 6'2". They aren't exactly Soapy Shapiro out there)
Legursky: Both. You also have to have a sick moustache, and you have to have tattoos. So [practice squad lineman] Ryan Lee, he would be a prime candidate, but can’t do it – no ‘stache, no tats. So he’s obviously out of his element.
Lee: I’m working on the ‘stache, but I don’t know about the tats.
Malecki: This is a league-wide standard.
BNG: Is there a commissioner of the Short White Guy Shout Out?
Malecki: Doug is the league commissioner.
BNG: Who is the all-pro team of SWGSO?
Malecki: Mike Webster, obviously.
BNG: But he’s hall of fame.
Legursky: He might be the Godfather.
Malecki: Russ Grimm is borderline.
BNG: He’s kinda tall. [Alan] Faneca is pretty tall.
Legursky: Yeah, those are tall guys.
Malecki: They’re setting the standard. And as coach always says, 'the standard IS the standard.'
Legursky: Put the word out. If anyone wants to join, just give us a call.
Malecki: Tweet Doug.