Ex-Steeler FB making rounds as Sports World returns to OVAC

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Most people hear about professional athletes and immediately think about the fame and fortune that goes along with those careers.

Former Pittsburgh Steeler fullback Tim Lester had those things during his eight-year career in the National Football League.

But, he also had plenty of other issues going on in his life that had nothing to do with what kind of defense the opposing team was going to use each Sunday to slow down him and tailback Jerome Bettis.

Battles with alcohol, drugs and even women addiction are things Lester spoke about when he addressed the St. Clairsville Red Devils’ football team Wednesday afternoon as part of the Sports World Program, which is back in the Ohio Valley this week, making rounds to several schools this week.

“I share the choices I made because I don’t want you guys making the same choices,” Lester said. “I definitely made some bad choices in my life, but I’ve since found peace in my life and now I’ve been married for 12 years, have three wonderful children and I’ve totally changed how I live my life.”

And Lester accomplished all of that by making the correct choices, which he stressed countless times during his 15-minute speech.

“Be a leader and be a winner,” Lester said. “You’ve got to have the passion to keep doing the right things.”

Lester has been a member of the SportsWorld Ministry for three years and this is his second time to visit OVAC membership.

Along with the Red Devils, Lester also spoke to the Union Local Jets after their practice on Tuesday.

“Talking to teams is something we’ve been doing and it’s up to the (school) administration and coaches,” Lester said. “This is where we belong anyway (talking to teams). Most of us were football players anyway, so when we get a chance to come out here and speak to a team it’s a real blessing because I feel at home on this field.”

During the course of his speech, Lester talked how he wound up at Eastern Kentucky University despite being involved in a major car accident and was still drafted in the 10th round by the Los Angeles Rams despite missing an entire collegiate season with a torn ACL and MCL. A funny story was when he said he was drafted because he ran a 35-yard dash rather than a 40 during his pro day.

“I was invited to the (scouting) combine, but I ran like a 4.8 (40-yard dash),” Lester said. “So, I was really disappointed, but then a coach called me and said he really liked what he saw on film and wanted to come down for an individual workout. Well, there were two lines on the field and I ran from the line and ran a 4.5.”

Lester, who started on the Rams’ practice squad, was shifted to fullback when the organization drafted Bettis from Notre Dame.

“I didn’t like Jerome when we first drafted him because I knew he was going to take my job, but it turned out he wanted to be a tailback,” Lester joked. “In football, you have to do the small things, so I focused on being the best blocker I could be.”

Bettis was later traded to Pittsburgh and after being released by the Rams, the Steelers called Lester to serve again as Bettis’ lead blocker.

Lester later finished his career with the Cowboys as Emmitt Smith’s lead blocker.

“I was starter for six of my eight years in the NFL and got to block for two future hall of famers,” Lester said.

Lester, who watched the end of the Red Devils’ practice on the sideline, told the team to play its game Friday at Harrison Central, “like it’s their last because you never know when it might end.”

“Only so many guys can be superstars and there are only so many big and strong guys,” Lester said. “But, you can be a great team by playing together and learning to do your job 100 percent and working hard. I’ve never heard a coach criticize a player for going hard.”