LaMarr Woodley embodies everything the Pittsburgh Steelers want in a player on and off the field. Besides being one of the NFL’s top outside linebackers, he also is one of the league’s most benevolent players through his Lamarr Woodley Foundation (www.lamarrwoodleyfoundation.com). Woodley’s focus is on helping underprivileged children in Pittsburgh and his hometown of Saginaw, Mich. Woodley’s latest act was among his most generous – he donated $60,000 to the Saginaw public school system to cover the fees being required among every student-athlete. Woodley spoke to FOXSports.com this week about his charitable endeavors and more.
Q: Why did you start your foundation at such a young age?
Woodley: “Ever since high school, I realized the impact I had on kids being a star athlete and how the junior high and elementary kids looked up to me. When I got to college at Michigan, I knew it was even bigger and that college and high school kids would be looking up to me. I couldn’t go back to my high school and give money while I was in college, but I could share information and educate the kids. It was even a little bit better than (donating) money. Me being at this level right now, I’m able to give back money and start different programs to help out the city of Pittsburgh and Saginaw and give knowledge education-wise to the kids. It’s something I’ve always had passion for. When I was younger, I said if I’m ever in a position where I’m able to give back and help somebody out who was in the same situation I was in that I would do that. I feel it’s my duty.”
Q: I know you wanted to keep the $60,000 donation to the Saginaw schools quiet. Why was that?
Woodley: “I don’t really need anybody to come pat me on the back and say, ‘Lamarr, you did a great job.’ I know the kids appreciate it because they know what I did came straight from the heart. (Media attention) wasn’t the reason I did it.”
Q: You’re one of the college defensive ends who has made a successful conversion to outside linebacker in a 3-4. Not everyone does. If you were an NFL scout, what traits would you look for?
Woodley: “I’m looking for someone who has been consistent. You can always count on them to play every snap and do things right off the field. When I look at myself, I’ve been consistent since seventh grade. Not to toot my own horn, but that’s the truth about it. I think me coming out in the draft might have gotten overshadowed because somebody had one good year or a big game in the championship. Now, some of those guys are sitting at home while I’m still playing.”
Q: What has it meant for you to get drafted by the Steelers?
Woodley: “This was favorite team since middle school. Coming here to play for the Steelers was great. There’s tradition and history here. The fans are loyal. You have guys on this team who have been here for a long time who are going to show you the correct way of doing it. I came to a team that’s built on their linebackers. You have an opportunity to be mentioned as one of the NFL’s top linebackers. It puts more pressure on you, but you live up to it or you don’t. I want to live up to that.”
Q: The ESPN documentary “Broke” aired earlier this week. What was the dumbest thing you’ve purchased since entering the NFL?
Woodley: “I haven’t really made any crazy purchases where I said, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that.’ I bought myself a Bentley. It actually was the first new car I bought. Every other one was used.”
Q: Finally, what are you going to remember most about the replacement referees?
Woodley: “The (interception) call against Green Bay (in a 14-12 loss to Seattle). It was 50/50. One called a touchdown; the other called a touchback [Laughs].”