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James Conner Thanks Pittsburgh, Fans after Steelers Departure

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Sports fans are used to players coming and going with regularity. Professional athletes know full well it’s extremely rare for angry athlete stay with one team or play in one area for an extended period of time, let alone their whole career. Despite those facts, James Conner leaving the Steelers, and more importantly leaving Pittsburgh, is a big different than just any player signing with a new team.

Conner, who signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, expressed his true love for Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh fans with a long message on social media.

“No one more grateful for the city of Pittsburgh than me,” Conner wrote in a thank-you on social media. “The last eight years been building me into the man I am today. Excited for what’s ahead but truly thankful for all the love and support during my best moments and most difficult times.

Pittsburgh’s connection to Conner extends far deeper than his time with the Steelers.

The city fell in love with Conner during his time at Pitt, especially when the community watched a young Conner endure a battle with cancer that interrupted his college career. His fight with cancer made Conner an inspirational figure that stretched far beyond the football field.

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In fact, the 25-year-old running back has also never played organized football for a team not located in the state of Pennsylvania. The Erie native played high school football at McDowell High School.

Conner rushed for 721 yards on 169 carries for the Steelers in 2020, exactly mimicking his career average of 4.3 yards per carry.

In four seasons with the Steelers after joining the team as a third-round pick in 2017 NFL Draft, he rushed for 2,302 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Conner was named to his first and only Pro Bowl in 2018, but he saw his production drop significantly over the last two seasons due to a combination of injuries and poor offensive line play. Conner rushed for 721 yards and six scores with the Steelers in 2020.

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