Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner joined The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday and discussed a number of topics, including his new contract and recovery from a torn ACL.
Banner signed a new two-year, $9.5 million deal with the Steelers last week, but has spent the last seven month rehabbing from the season-ending knee injury suffered in the team’s season-opening win over the New York Giants.
While the injury admittedly crushed Banner in the moment, the support of his teammates and the organization have given him the motivation to power through the challenging road back to the field.
“It was crushing,” Banner said. “Obviously you can see the tape, and see my face as I’m being carted off the field. … To wake up and see the rest of the starting offensive line visiting me in the hospital. Ben, obviously, was next to me during the injury and walked me off the field and checked in with me later that week. … It’s the support from my coaches and my teammates that make me want to get up and beat this this upcoming season.”
Not only was the new deal a relief after the injury, but its was also a chance for Banner to grow in a city he now calls home.
“I love the Black and Gold,” he said. “The contract itself is an opportunity where I can solidify myself not only in Pittsburgh, not only in the NFL, but also just an amazing opportunity to work with the guys in the locker room that I’ve built with these last couple years.”
Rome also asked Banner about the incredible reaction of his Steeler teammates when they heard of his re-signing. For Banner, it all comes down to the Steelers way and authenticity.
“Just feels good man. It’s authentic,” he said. “It’s relationships. It’s hanging out off the field. It’s working hard in the locker room and working hard in the weight room… it’s all out of pure effort and hard work and sweat, but it’s also authentic relationships.”
Banner has become a community pillar in his short time in Pittsburgh, speaking out for social justice and against antisemitism. He elaborated on the passion behind his work with Rome as well.
“That’s just the kind of guy I am,” Banner said. “I have obviously brothers and friends who are not only Jewish, but have dealt with antisemitism their whole life. When I heard those comments, I just felt like I needed to put it out there that someone in the NFL who wasn’t Jewish, who wasn’t Julian Edelman, who wasn’t the Schwartz brothers. To show solidarity, especially as a Black and Brown man in America and dealing with the social injustices that we deal with. That’s what we ask for from others. Why would I be a hypocrite and not show love to brothers and sisters who are also being oppressed?”
Originally a fourth-round selection of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, Banner bounced around the league before ultimately finding a home in Pittsburgh. He was twice named a First-Team All-PAC 12 selection while at USC.