It was August 2003 and my team at the time, the Pittsburgh Steelers, was holding the first live scrimmage for training camp. As a rookie in the NFL I had practiced a number of times with the team, but this was the first time I was going to suit it up for a full contact and tackle goal line scrimmage. The set up was easy. The first and second team offenses would go against the first and second team defenses. The offense had four downs to score a touchdown. If they scored, they won; if they failed to score the defense won.
The first team offense and defense took the field first. The offense included Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, and Tommy Maddox who went against a defense consisting of Joey Porter, James Farrior, and Kendrell Bell. The opposing sides lined up against each other, the referee blew his whistle to start the play clock, Tommy Maddox called out the cadence, then the ball was snapped ... from that instant, the phrase The Next Level was defined for me.
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