Former Gator Max Starks making the most of second Super Bowl experience
Former UF offensive lineman Max Starks is back in his home state this week as part of the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl team.
The Orlando native who grew up in a family of undertakers and had his license while a player at UF, is in his fifth season with the Steelers, and is playing in his second Super Bowl. But he hasn't Florida roots.
Here are a few excerpts from Starks' time with the media this week:
(On being back in his hometown area for the Super Bowl) “When you play in sports, the one thing you look to do is to play at the top of your sport. Playing for a championship and having the opportunity to do it for a second time is truly a blessing. To be back in the state of Florida makes it even more special to me.”
(On if he wants to see the Super Bowl played in his hometown of Orlando ) “Of course, you have to have one in Orlando . That would be my ultimate dream. You have the Citrus Bowl there, and so many great high schools and collegiate games have been played there. You have to. You have to honor the fact that Orlando is a big football city that a lot of people look over. It would be great to have the Super Bowl there in the shadows of Jones High School . My first high school game was at the Citrus Bowl.”
(On the challenges the Steelers' offensive line has faced) “As an offensive line, we have had some difficult situations this year. Anytime you lose key veteran starters, most teams would say they are preparing for the next season. The good thing about our offensive line and our team in general is that we have great depth. We have guys that can play multiple positions. We have guys that can fill in and guys that are intelligent enough to crack the lineup. Coach (Mike) Tomlin has said that we have a bunch of starters waiting behind the starting lineup. We’ve had guys, like myself, who have taken advantage of those opportunities. It’s about hard work and perseverance. It’s already tough enough to make it to this level and to make it on a team. When you’ve had the opportunity to be on the starting lineup, guys have seized the opportunity and relished it. Now there’s only one step left.”
(On the criticism the offensive line has taken throughout the season) “We take the criticism with a grain of salt. It is always going to be looked at as a run-first team. We’ve changed that dimension this season by being a very pass oriented team. They look at our rushing numbers, look at the situations under which we rush and they say that we are not the normal Pittsburgh Steelers team. Well, it’s not Bill Cowher running the team, it’s Mike Tomlin. It is a different team. We have always looked at the situation as an opportunity to grow. We got closer through off the field activities more so than on the field. We have just embraced it because the offensive line does have to be a close unit. We’ve done everything together off the field and on the field. That naturally brought us closer than it would have if it had been anywhere else, where you just go to work together, go home and forget about it. It’s helped us get to this point.”
(On teammates leaning on him for advice) “Guys have asked me a couple of questions about it, but you don’t want to ruin the experience. You want every guy to enjoy and savor this moment as much as they can. It’s their first time doing it so you don’t want to sit there and try to give them a speech or a lecture about how you should do this. Let the guys live the experience and enjoy the experience, but remind them why they are here and why these distractions are around us. It is because of the game we are playing in. We are not watching it on Sunday and waiting for the commercials. We are the show. I tell them to be themselves, but remember why you’re here.”