Welcome to our new rivalry edition of Steelers Interviews. Throughout the year, our Ron Lippock will be speaking with players you loved to hate from some of the Steelers’ biggest rivals. Up first, our Ron Lippock with former NFL running back Eddie George, who spent most of his career with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise. George discussed the old Steelers-Oilers rivalry in the 90’s and his life after the NFL.
First, can you let us know what you’re doing with yourself now?
Well, the first thing is that I work in wealth management. I’m fully licensed for over three-and–half years now working with athletes, corporations and banks – helping people manage their wealth.
I’ve also been acting. On stage, I’ve been acting live and in front of a camera now for some time. I’ve done Chicago the Musical, Othello and other plays – a lot of Shakespeare – and have been on shows like CSI LA and Ballers.
So, I’ve been dividing my time between being a husband and father and those other things as well.
How difficult was the post-NFL adjustment for you?
Yeah, you can’t really prepare for it. You just don’t know – it’s the unknown. It can be daunting, exciting – and fearful. Before everything was regimented – from the moment you get to the locker room to being on the field. Now, you come home to silence, or if you have kids, figuring that out. You have a lot of time on your hands that you have to figure out what to do with.
You have to find a purpose – and that can take time to figure out. You need to find something you’re passionate about so it’s not just a job. You want to make a new career out of something you love and really dream about doing.
Let’s get into the rivalry with Pittsburgh – how did you approach those as a team in Houston?
Early on it was a heated rivalry for us because we were in the AFC Central together. It was a big deal. We all knew Pittsburgh was the standard for toughness and play – for their brand and history of winning. So we took those games seriously. They were bring your aspirin, hard hats and lunch pail games. I think there was a stretch where we didn’t beat Pittsburgh for like seven years before we finally beat them in ’97. It changed after that.
Did Jeff Fisher prepare you for those games differently?
Well we always game-planned around other teams’ weaknesses and our strengths. We went into those games with the mentality that we wanted to hit them before they hit us. They were notorious for their 3-4 defense of course. We knew their tendencies – especially on third down and longs, they had those exotic zone blitz packages.
I remember in ’96 they did something we never saw before. They brought a corner in on a blitz off the edge from the blind side with no safety help at all. Usually you have a safety rotate over. They totally disrespected our passing game.
And you always had to be aware of all of those guys because anyone could blitz – Chad Brown, Kirkland, Gildon, Lloyd – you had to be careful of all of those guys.
Were there any guys you watched out for and enjoyed going up against personally?
Well, you never enjoyed getting hit by those guys! You don’t look forward to that – you just deal with it. Those games were like fistfights. You enjoy winning of course, but Pittsburgh week was always interesting.
The entire defense was so disciplined. Flowers I remember would come in and hit you like a linebacker. They all wanted to knock the shit out of you. And there was always a mutual respect for each other when the game was over – whether you won or lost.
Any memories that stand out to you most from those games?
All of the matchups were unique. At Three Rivers I rushed for 150 yards and we won the game – that sticks out with me. I remember then playoff fame where I was knocked out and we still managed to win. The offsides on the field goal we missed and then making it the second time to win the game.
Who were some of the big personalities in those games?
There was constant chatter between the teams before games when we were warming up. Porter of course was always behind something – he would call guys out by name during warmups, telling people it was “Our house” and asking us “Why did we bother coming here today?”
I enjoyed the bantering. I remember when Pittsburgh came to Nashville too and Bullocks stepped all over the Terrible Towel too!
Kirkland was quiet – he talked with his pads. The main culprit really was always Joey Porter.
Lloyd was too I remember. He would always smile at you right before he hit you then laugh at you afterwards. He’d seek you out even if you weren’t involved much in the play. He was insane.
What do you think of the rivalry today?
It’s different now, definitely. Players make the rivalries a lot of the time – not just the organizations. Jerome versus Ray Lewis for example. Me versus Ray. You don’t have as much of that today. It’s still wonderful to watch. I love seeing Baltimore versus Pittsburgh and Cleveland – Cleveland versus Pittsburgh. They are always competitive games due to the rivalry between the teams.