Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva Inspired Former Teammate To Follow In His Footsteps

steelers' alejandro villanueva inspired former teammate to follow in his footsteps

Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva Inspired Former Teammate To Follow In His Footsteps

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a history of players with a military background, with Rocky Bleier and Alejandro Villanueva headlining the list of veterans that served their country. Villanueva went from Army Ranger, to the blindside protector for one of the best offensive lines in football at the time. For a short duration, he was the offensive lineman that young players and prospects looked up to and strived to be. One of his teammates was inspired by him and wanted to follow in his footsteps, but not just as a player.

"My last year in the NFL, my second year in Pittsburgh, I was going through camp, recovering from surgery, and just realized I was behind guys like Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. I was sitting in the hot tub after a practice talking to Al Villanueva, and he told me a personal story about his time in the army and why he joined the army that got the gears turning for me."

When you're playing behind a top-tier interior line like Manhart was, there's really not much of a chance to play unless someone gets injured. It's even worse when you get injured yourself when you're just trying to make the 53-man roster in the first place. Manhart was on his fourth team in two years, and he was just trying to recover in time to earn a roster spot in his third year in the NFL.

Manhart Left The Steelers To Chase New Dream

After talking with Villanueva, Manhart took his lessons to heart and decided to make some of his own military stories. He enrolled in the army and even graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England. After all of his years of training and serving, he is no longer seen as a journeyman backup that might make a practice squad. He is now known as First Lieutenant Cole Manhart.

Throughout the interview, Manhart kept bringing up the impact that Villanueva had on him and how he sowed the seeds to get him into the army. Six years of service and numerous accomplishments all came to be because of a story in Latrobe.

"The biggest off-field moment was that talk with Al Villanueva; that private story he shared with me. I’ve been in the army for six years now and it all started with him taking the time after a tough day at Latrobe to talk to me about the path I’d need to take to transition from the NFL to the army."

While Villanueva and Manhart both played football and served in the military, they had completely different paths. Villanueva attended West Point and even played football for the Army Black Knights. After graduating, he went into the army and had three separate tours in Afghanistan before retiring from the military to go back to football.

After a failed stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers signed him and turned him from a defensive end to an offensive tackle. He became the starting left tackle in 2015 and kept that position up until his contract officially expired after the 2020 season.

Unlike Manhart, who struggled in football and chose to serve afterwards, Villanueva went to the army before signing in the NFL, but he still had a return to the army as a backup option if he couldn't make it at the NFL level. It's a good thing the Steelers found him, so Mike Munchak could get him to battle in the frontlines of the gridiron, as opposed to the frontlines overseas again.

Want more articles like this? Follow Steeler Nation on MSN to see more of our exclusive sports content.

More must-reads:

    OTHER NEWS

    22 minutes ago

    Xavi challenges Barcelona president to explain sack reasons

    22 minutes ago

    Leeds vs. Southampton: Preview, date, time, live stream and how to watch EFL Championship play-off final

    22 minutes ago

    Government's NatWest shares sale to the public may be axed

    22 minutes ago

    Evening gowns by Arab designers on the red carpet at Cannes

    22 minutes ago

    Miami win in Vancouver without resting Barca trio

    22 minutes ago

    Pilgrims' overflow at Chardham temples hits state's preparedness Uttarakhand govt compelled to seek help from other states

    22 minutes ago

    Celtics stage late comeback to lead Pacers 3-0

    22 minutes ago

    Minns government gives funding to build 671 new charging points across state

    22 minutes ago

    Royal news – live: Prince William and Prince George watch FA Cup Final as Harry and Meghan portrait finds new home

    23 minutes ago

    NRL Highlights: Warriors v Dolphins - Round 12

    23 minutes ago

    Gawn, Petracca run riot as Demons crush Saints

    23 minutes ago

    If the Dow’s heading for 60,000 by 2030, can the FTSE 100 index hit 12,000?

    23 minutes ago

    1 superb growth stock that could be a massive winner, with help from AI

    23 minutes ago

    Should I be worried about the red-hot Lloyds share price?

    23 minutes ago

    Who has time to watch a 4-hour YouTube video? Millions of us, it turns out

    23 minutes ago

    The Okalolies of Old Year's Night: Celebrating tradition on the world's most remote inhabited island

    26 minutes ago

    6.5k overseas S’poreans wrongly e-mailed about successful overseas voting registration

    26 minutes ago

    Predatory taxi driver whose victim was put into his cab for her own safety by good Samaritans is jailed for 12 years after he drove her to secluded spot and raped her

    26 minutes ago

    Super Size Me documentarian Morgan Spurlock was ‘influential filmmaker’

    26 minutes ago

    Ukrainian Air Defenses Successfully Intercept 12 Missiles, 31 Strike Drones Overnight

    26 minutes ago

    Tornado rips through northeastern Texas, prompting rescue efforts

    26 minutes ago

    Medicine shortages that affect our most vulnerable are unacceptable

    26 minutes ago

    Tedesco axed by NSW selectors

    26 minutes ago

    Is Leeds v Southampton on TV? Kick-off time, channel and how to watch Championship play-off final

    26 minutes ago

    Forever wars and facial recognition – what Russia will look like in 2030

    26 minutes ago

    'There will inevitably be another pandemic': Former Health Minister Greg Hunt

    26 minutes ago

    Aircraft hit by severe turbulence returns to Singapore, local media reports

    29 minutes ago

    The sky’s the limit – Irish construction firms building big in Poland

    29 minutes ago

    The clever ways Lidl is helping shoppers save money

    29 minutes ago

    Fatal Mpumalanga crash leaves six dead, one critical

    29 minutes ago

    Benni McCarthy to leave Man United on a high after FA Cup win?

    29 minutes ago

    Biden and Kenya's Pres. discuss crisis in Haiti at joint conference

    31 minutes ago

    European Parliament Election: Your Midlands North-West Candidates

    31 minutes ago

    'Struggled with back issues after World Cup, no one...': KKR captain Shreyas Iyer

    31 minutes ago

    Councillor sues Kildare County Council over land sale deals

    31 minutes ago

    Central Coast Mariners captain Danny Vukovic announces retirement a day after club's historic win

    31 minutes ago

    Insider: With 345,000 tickets sold, storms looming, Indy 500 blackout looks greedy, archaic

    32 minutes ago

    F1 Monaco GP 2024 LIVE: Race updates, times, schedule and results as Charles Leclerc starts on pole

    32 minutes ago

    Aid trucks begin entering Gaza under agreement with Egypt to bypass Rafah

    33 minutes ago

    ‘Seinfeld’s Michael Richards Reveals Co-Star “Almost Quit The Show In Season 3”

    Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch