B.J. Finney was probably meant to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
First, there’s the look: a big offensive lineman with a bigger beard, that prefers blue jeans to business attire and sports a Stetson hat.
Then there’s the background: Finney grew up a Steelers fan, thanks to his father, who was a fan of the team in the 1970s, even though Finney was born in Wichita, Kansas. That Jack Lambert jersey worn above is the authentic article.
So when Finney came out of Kansas State without being drafted in 2015, signing with the Steelers was a no-brainer. The sides split after the 2019 season, with Finney offered a free-agent contract the Steelers couldn’t match.
But after he was released by the Bengals and was once again on the open market, with the Steelers needing an interior lineman, coming back to Pittsburgh was a no-brainer.
“Honestly, it’s like coming home,” Finney said to Steelers.com on Tuesday in his first interview since signing with the team. “You can’t wait to get home, so we are excited to be back. My family and I are excited to be back. Hopefully everything plays out well.”
It’ll be a return to familiarity both for Finney’s family being back in Pittsburgh and for him to return to a line he’s comfortable being a part of.
Though there have been departures, tackles Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor, guard David DeCastro and center J.C. Hassenauer were all teammates of Finney’s before he left the Steel City.
“You can never fully get away from anything with all of the friends and family we have on the team,” Finney said. “Last year we were keeping tabs on everybody, checking in on everyone to make sure they were doing all right, keeping the lines of communication open. When you still have friends and family on the team, you are still going to follow it.”
Finney is expected to battle with Hassenauer for the starting center spot to replace retired veteran Maurkice Pouncey, and that’s a position he’s plenty familiar with, as he battled his way from undrafted free agent to regular backup at center and guard in his first stint with the Steelers.
“Coach Tomlin told me my fate is in my hands and we will see where it leads,” he said. “We always have control over it. It’s just a matter of opportunities rolling our way. It’s nice to be in more control than I had prior to.”