Rock Hill native, Super Bowl champ offers Christmas hope to local kids
The Pittsburgh Steelers sub-Reddit hosted an “AMA” (ask me anything) with former Steelers and Rock Hill High football star Chris Hope on Oct. 10, 2018.
Reddit users submitted questions in the comments section and Hope, who is promoting his new book “P.R.O.S.”, responded. Here is a selection of questions and answers that came up during the chat. Check out the full conversation here.
RHBearcat: Fellow Bearcat here, Chris. Hope you don’t mind a few RH themed questions. 1) Favorite place to eat in Rock Hill, or place you miss the most? 2) Favorite athlete from RH of the past, or one you think is next to make it?
Hope: Shrimp Boat off of Cherry Rd! My heroes growing up were Gerald Dixon, Jeff Burris, and Dee Feaster. The next to make it? Anthony Johnson.
BretJust1T: Follow-up: Tony Watkins and Tim Jones are coaching position groups for the Bearcat varsity. Which would win in a wrestling match?
Hope: I guess whoever had the most skin or body parts left after they got up since they’re both Bearcats. I don’t know who would win. Two of the toughest men I know.
throwaway50955932: Being as objective as possible, who would you rather be your head coach : Mike Tomlin or Bill Cowher? Also, did you ever get to touch Cowher’s chin?
Hope: I love Mike Tomlin’s energy and his coaching style, being that he relates more to the guys and seems a little more open than coach Cowher was at the time. But I would go with Coach Cowher because of his discipline, his demeanor, and his control he had over the time. As mean as he was portrayed on TV, he really was a nice coach, and his door was always open. Definitely didn’t get close to the chin though.
TheRuleOfTheSea: Did you ever get the opportunity to comb Troy Polomalu’s hair? Also, do you mind asking him what kind of conditioner he uses? Asking for a friend.
Hope: I never combed his hair, I don’t think that would be appropriate. But I did have the opportunity to lay in his hair on the bus. We cried together after the Super Bowl. I think he was a Head and Shoulders guy for awhile but he probably uses something organic.
throwaway50955932: What is your favorite off-field memory of Troy Polamalu?
Hope: Our third year in the league, we played the Carolina Panthers in the preseason and I had everyone come over to my cousin’s house to eat and meet my family. The entire defense came. My family was just in awe at how humble those guys were. They signed autographs, posed for pictures, etc. One thing I remember is that Troy was rolling dice with my cousins. At my wedding, he held my godson while the parents went out and danced on the dance floor.
Godhatesarmorers: Hey Chris, thanks for doing this. Who would you say was a quintessential contributor (coach, player, staff members). Anyone in that 2005 Superbowl run that we as outsiders might not have been aware of?
Hope: Brian McFadden was a rookie DB who made a big play in the Divisional round against the Colts when he broke up a pass vs. Reggie Wayne. Big Ben’s tackle on the fumble on the goal line was huge. I think our team was just 100 percent a great gel with a great mix of guys. We were all unselfish and on the same page - it’s probably the best team I’ve ever been a part of.
BretJust1T: What kind of impact did growing up in Rock Hill, SC have on your career? By that I mean, the focus and love of high school football that the town is pretty well known for, and also in the influence of one Barry Byers. Thanks Chris!
Hope: Growing up in Rock Hill, I definitely was blessed to be coached by men who were more concerned about my character than how well I played the game. From a very young age, I not only had a great respect for how to play the game, but I also had great respect for my teammates and my community. As a kid, we looked to the high school players as our pro athletes. We were more excited to play high school than pro since that’s the furthest we could see at that time. Rock Hill has been fortunate enough to have so many great HS football players come through the city. It was kind of the ‘next man up’ mentality, where we wanted to follow in the footsteps of those who came before us. I’m grateful to pass the torch on to those who came behind me, and I hope I did a good job leaving footprints in the sand for them. Barry Byers has a special place in my heart. I grew up with his daughter and he has actually written pretty much every sports article about me my entire high school, elementary, and pros career that the Herald has published. Besides my family, he was the first one to know what college I would go to, and he was just a great, great friend. The Herald lost an awesome person when he passed away.
throwaway50955932: Could you share a moment in your life that helped inspire the book you’ve written?
Hope: When I think about becoming successful and not being fulfilled. That is a lonely place and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. So many of us chase success, but to become successful and not have those that you started with makes it all in vain.
TheOneColt: Hey Chris, thanks for doing this. What was the first thing you did when you realized you won a Super Bowl, and did it take you a little while for it to fully set in?
Hope: When the clock ran out, I ran to find my family. There was a sea of terrible towels swinging, so there was yellow everywhere. If it wasn’t for my dad’s loud mouth, I wouldn’t have been able to find them. But I did, and I brought them onto the field to celebrate. I also did the infamous kiss of the trophy.
IAMABobby: Do you see football’s popularity waning in the future due to the safety issues and less interest at lower levels (pee wee)?
Hope: I think the more people become aware of the injuries and challenges that any sports bring, not just football, parents are becoming more protective. They’re making intentional decisions on whether they let their children participate. At the end of the day, though, I don’t think America’s game is going anywhere. In all sports, you have high and low points where fans stop watching and stop loving the game as much as they once did. I think football is too fun though for that to happen. I think at a young age, parents are letting their kids play flag football until they’re old enough to play tackle football. This is still a form of football though which shows a love for the game. I think it is important for everyone to do the research so they know what can possibly happens and what is out there. I think that is on every individual that plays sports to do the research and make their own decisions. Sports injuries are being covered more and more nowadays which is a great thing to raise awareness. But, like I said earlier, I hope the technology continues to catch up to the research so that players of every sport can play the game safely.
MessageToObserver: Who was the greatest opposing player you ever went against, and the best opposing offensive coach or scheme?
Hope: Being that I was a defense back, Randy Moss probably created the biggest challenge for a secondary to try to stop. He was super athletic, he was tall and fast, could jump high and had great ball skills. Even when you were in good position, he could still beat you. The patriots probably had the best offensive scheme that I’ve ever played against. They attack every weakness that you have. They find match up problems all across the field which makes it very hard to stop them. Coach Dick LeBeau was the greatest defensive mind that I’ve encountered. I was fortunate enough to play with the greatest defensive mind but he found a way to use your strengths and weaknesses. However, the Patriots offensive staff was amazing which is why their scheme was unstoppable and still is.
Majavic: Hey Chris, good luck with the book. What was your biggest adjustment to life after football? Do you ever get the itch to come back to the sport in some capacity?
Hope: Finding something to do with all the energy (both positive and negative). Having the itch to play - not so much, since I never signed up to play forever. I think so many athletes let it become who they are, and when they can’t do it anymore, they are lost. I never wanted to fall into that trap, so I found other things to be focused on and keep my mind away from it. Watching football sometimes and wanting to help but not being able to is hard. I also don’t wanna die with all this wisdom and not pass it on to anyone, so sharing my knowledge is something I’ve been able to do with P.R.O.S.