Pittsburgh Steelers veteran cornerback William Gay has plenty of playoff experience, so it would be smart to listen when he shells out advice. Especially when that advice is to use the nerves you have going into a big game as he shared on The Jim Rome Show on Friday ahead of his team’s matchup against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship this Sunday.
“Every player in the NFL, at this time and this moment, you get the jitters, you get the butterflies, but you have to turn that into good energy,” Gay said. “You just tell the guys, ‘Man, don’t hide your feelings, everybody is going to be jittery, everybody is going to be nervous, everybody is going to get butterflies, but you have to turn that into good energy, knowing that your preparation up to the game was the best foot forward you had that week, and you know you believe in your scheme, you believe in your preparation, and you believe in your ability and everything else will take care of itself man.’
“If you go out there and do what you have to do and like I said, execute and have more positivity than your opponent than chances are you will win the game. And that’s what you tell the guys who have never been there before, because they have played a football game, and that’s what it comes down to when the whistle is blown.”
The last championship the Steelers won, Super Bowl XLIII, Gay held a prominent role in the team’s championship parade, going legend on the microphone. It was a feeling Gay says he’d like replicated again.
“It was awesome. The fans showed up. It was cold. We had a lot of guys with no shirts on. It was just an amazing feeling,” Gay said. “It was my second year in the league. I was excited, never been a part of a championship before dating back to when I was in middle school. I never won in Pop Warner league, I never won in middle school ball, high school ball, college as far as a championship, and then I got to the league and got a championship. So it was the best thing of my life. So I was excited, but we have a chance now to get back in that game, but we have to go through a great opponent, and it’s going to be fun Sunday and can’t wait.”
Earlier this season Steelers’ Hall of Famer quarterback Terry Bradshaw referred to Gay’s coach Mike Tomlin as more of a “cheerleader” type. Bradshaw of course walked those comments back, but Gay shared his initial reaction to hearing them.
“We just focused on playing football. Our coach came in, and he wasn’t worried about it, so he kind of set the tone for the team to not worry about it,” Gay said. “Of course, we look at him like a father figure, and that’s like someone talking about your dad, but when your dad comes in and tells you to strictly focus on the task at hand and that’s the football games, then you know, you do what your dad tells you to do. And we didn’t even worry about it one second, and we just let the media be the media and then let the football players and coaches do their thing on the field.”