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One year later: Keisel reflects on life, his career and the big game

January 11, 2010

As Sunday dawned in snowy Pittsburgh, Brett Keisel couldn’t have been much further from the big stage of the Super Bowl. The Greybull native, whose fumble recovery a year ago sealed the Steelers’ record-setting sixth world championship, watched the game at home with his wife Sarah and son, Jacob —and that was good enough for him.

More than 2 ½ feet of snow blanketed Pittsburgh last week, and in the aftermath the Keisel family was snowed in and went more than two days without electricity. It wasn’t until about 6 a.m Sunday — the day of the game in Miami — that power was restored to their home.

“I had a shovel, firewood, and we had lots of candles and lots of food,” laughed Brett. “We were prepared for it.”

Like the rest of America, Keisel said he couldn’t take his eyes off the television Sunday. “I’m proud of the Saints for what they did,” he said, admitting that he was hoping they’d knock off the Colts. “It was just their story and what they did for their city, and Drew Brees, coming from the situation he came from. I was really happy for those guys.”

Keisel and the Steelers won their final three games, but their 9-7 record wasn’t good enough to make playoffs. “The team had a lull, and it just lasted too long,” said Keisel of the five-game losing skid that crippled the Steelers’ playoff hopes.

Keisel actually missed the final game with a “stinger” that he suffered in the next-to-last game, and has been recuperating from that injury and enjoying quality time with his family since the season drew to a close.

Statistically, it was one of Keisel’s finest seasons. A starter at defensive end, Keisel finished with 54 tackles, including 36 solo stops, to go along with two pass deflections, three sacks and a forced fumble. His best year, statistically, was 2006, when he was credited with 55 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

“I think I probably played a little better than I did the year before — and that’s all you try to do, in terms of learning what you can do better and working hard to improve.”

Keisel said the Steelers’ defense was hurt by injuries, and particularly by the loss of Troy Polamalu, whom he described as “an incredible player” who “ought to be up there with the great players in the entire league.” “But that’s football,” he said. “We’re a team, and we were able to win without him too.”

Now that the season’s over, Keisel and his wife are busy planning their summer. There will be at least one trip to Greybull, although he is uncertain of the timing of that visit. “We’re contemplating the all-class reunion, but we’ll see how that goes,” he said. “We will definitely be back at some point though. It’s kind of a tradition. We love coming back there. Both Sarah and I think of it as home.” The daughter of Steve and Pat Johnson of Greybull, Sarah “is doing great, too,” Brett said.

With eight years in the NFL under his belt, Keisel’s goal is to fulfill the five-year contract he signed with the Steelers prior to the start of the season. “It was great to get that deal done — and it’s great that I’ll be able to play my whole career with the Steelers.”

Keisel, a 1997 graduate of GHS, is the son of former Greybull residents Lane and Connie Keisel.