Senior Directory (SD): So in 2002 you were signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, how did that feel?
Charlie Batch (CB): It was good, it was crazy because I remember when I was at the NFL combine in 1998. I remember going through the interview process, and I knew the Steelers weren’t looking for a quarterback. At that point I was walking down the hallway and saw the Steelers suite, and I thought here’s my opportunity to introduce myself to these guys. So I walked in and introduced myself and Bill Cowher said he knew me and introduced me to everyone there including the Rooney’s. At that point I told coach Cowher that I knew he wasn’t looking for a quarterback now, but it if I ever have the opportunity to play for him one day I would.
We laughed about it, but later in 2002 the General Manager asked if I would want to come in for a visit, and of course I did. I came in for a visit to meet coach Cowher, and they said we would have to go meet him. So I remember going to this very hot gym because Coach Cowher was watching his daughter play basketball, when I finally spoke to the coach he asked why I wanted to play in Pittsburgh. I said “Coach, do you remember that conversation we had a few years ago, I told you if I ever had the opportunity to play for you I would and that’s why I’m here.” And that’s how I ended up here.
SD: What would you consider to be the highlight of your NFL career?
CB: There’s many, the first time I started for Detroit against the Steelers and there was that whole controversy with the coin flip with Jerome Bettis that was talked about for a long time. But for me there are two that stand out, bringing a Super bowl back here in 2005 in Super Bowl XL, that was something that we had been waiting 25 years for, and being born and raised here and being part of something special and that parade going through downtown and celebrating with 250,000 people. And then going out and winning it again, and seeing some of your teammates experiencing it for the first time and the excitement, to me winning Super Bowl XL and XLIII those were two really special moments.
SD: What do you miss most about playing pro football?
CB: Well my body doesn’t miss being hit, I can tell you that (laughs). The relationships that you build, because you’re in locker room and you’re around each other more than you are your family. I mean you start the process in April and you don’t finish up until hopefully in February. I think when you grow up around that locker room and have those relationships it can be difficult to walk away from it. You start to wonder why your phone isn’t ringing, and then you start to remember that those relationships were based on in-person interactions and you miss just being around your teammates.
SD: So you played in the NFL for 15 years, the average NFL career is 3 years, what was the secret to your success.
CB: A lot of ice tubs, a very good massage therapist, and making sure that you take care of your body. One thing you learn at that level is that you can’t burn a candle on both ends, you have to take your job seriously and you can’t turn around and party. At an early age I remember NFL veterans telling me, the minute you understand the business side of the NFL you wont take things personally. That stuck with me, because I wanted to learn what the Collective Bargaining Agreement mean, and I learned that at a young age because of that veteran presence. Whatever decisions were made I could get past that, and the longer I played I was able to convey that to younger guys, in terms of hey don’t take it personally, fans will love you and fans will hate you. Whenever the game of football was over I never brought it home, meaning if I had a bad day at the office or had a bad game, yes I’m pissed off on the drive home, but when I get home and walk through that door and see my family and my dogs it’s all love. It allowed me to shut out that outside world of sports and focus on my family, which I think keeps you grounded.
Interview by Peter Gietl and Alex Milzer with Senior Directory, LLC. Special thanks to Charlie Batch, Jennifer Highfield, and Best of the Batch Foundation.