Steelers: Why William Gay Must Be Re-Signed
By Josh Fitzer
It’s no secret that the Steelers have had their fair share of problems in the secondary. CB Senquez Golson, who the Steelers picked in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, has yet to play a snap in the National Football League. He started on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list because of a shoulder injury. He had shoulder surgery a few weeks later and was put on IR, thus ending his rookie season. The Steelers traded for CB Brandon Boykin, sending a fifth round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Steelers have this corner riding the bench. According to Football Outsiders, Boykin has only played 22 snaps on defense this season. Weird, right?
Now with the status’ of Golson and Boykin up in the air, one must wonder where the future of this secondary is headed. I find myself wondering the same thing. All of the veterans that graced the defensive backfield are nearly gone, except for one.
CB William Gay, who has spent all but one season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is entering his ninth season as a pro. He came into the NFL when he was picked by the Black & Gold in the fifth round (170th overall) of 2007 NFL Draft. Since coming into the league, Gay has 464 total tackles, 5.0 sacks, 9 interceptions, and 4 touchdowns. In the 2014 season, 3of his 9 career interceptions were returned for a touchdown. Now, Willie Gay’s numbers don’t scream that he’s an elite corner, but there’s more to this man than “William Gay the Football Player”.
Jul 27, 2015; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) participates in drills during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
When Gay was just 8 years old, his world seemed to be ending when his mother and father were fatally shot by his step-father, who later killed himself. Gay’s father died immediately, and his mother Carolyn Hall passed away at the hospital a few hours later.
Carolyn had been trying to get out of an abusive relationship with Gay’s step-father for quite a while. Later on in life, Gay was told deeper details of the events leading up to his mother’s death.
“I had no idea what was going on behind closed doors. I was 8 when my mother died. I was told, years later, that she was trying to get out. That she had finally found the strength to walk away from an abusive relationship that I had no idea about—at the time I didn’t even know what domestic violence was. My stepfather wouldn’t let her go, and things escalated. He shot her three times before killing himself.”
For the next four years Willie Gay was going down the wrong path. “When you lose a parent at a young age, you kind of lose direction.” Gay said.
Most kids that age would’ve continued down the wrong path, but not William Gay.
“Football took me away from all the evil and helped me grow into a man,” he says.
Now Gay is a nine-year veteran, has two Super Bowl rings, and is still one of the starting corners for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Gay has found more success off the field than on it.
Since his arrival in Pittsburgh, William Gay has been able to use his platform to speak to victims and survivors of domestic abuse. He often visits the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. There he’s able help people by sharing his story and experience.
On November 10th, 2015, William Gay was honored at the Holy Family Luncheon for being the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. He won the award for his tireless efforts in fighting back against the very thing that ended his mother’s life.
Gay spoke these words after accepting the award, “This is for my mom, it’s for other women like her that went through the situation they went through and it was hard for them and their families. I do this for the women. I tell them you are not survivors, you are heroes. I will continue this fight even if my days are over on the field. It means that much to me to end domestic violence in the world. If all of us would come together, speak out if you see something, it would be a tremendous help. I want to encourage everyone. Take ‘No More’ personal. No more excuses. No more it’s not my business. Let’s join in and continue to do that every day.”
To me, this a major reason as to why the Steelers must re-sign #22. William Gay is a rare voice in today’s NFL, and today’s NFL has seen a lot of domestic abuse cases involving it’s players. Gay can not only be a positive influence for Steelers rookies to come, but he can also be a voice to rookies and veterans all across the NFL.
William Gay is a man that I am proud of seeing play for my favorite team. William Gay is a man that I want to see play his last down in a Steelers uniform.
Thank you, William Gay. Thank you for being a great example of what a man should look like.