Steelers Q&A with Mitch Berger

By Harris, John | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

Steelers Q&A with Mitch Berger


Harris, John, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Look up persistence in the dictionary, and you'll probably find Steelers punter Mitch Berger's picture beside it. Berger has been with 10 NFL teams since being selected by Philadelphia in the sixth round of the 1994 draft.

Berger, who also holds for kicker Jeff Reed on field goals and extra points, has used his versatility to his advantage through the years.

With Minnesota, Berger also kicked off, sometimes into the end zone for touchbacks. Upon returning to the sideline, he would take a bite of a Snickers bar he kept in his spare shoe.

After incumbent punter Daniel Sepulveda suffered a season-ending knee injury, Berger, 36, signed with the Steelers. He competed with Paul Ernster in training camp. Berger won the job, as Ernster was released during the final cuts.

After experiencing hamstring problems, Berger was released Nov. 5, and the Steelers re-signed Ernster. Following a string of poor performances by Ernster, Berger was re-signed by the Steelers on Nov. 24.

Berger, who's averaging 41.7 yards (38.1 net) on 45 punts this season, recently talked to the Tribune-Review about the lack of job security at his position and taking advantage of his opportunity with the Steelers.

Did you expect to return to the Steelers after they released you last month?

"I planned on coming back here. This is where I planned on coming back the whole time. When I went home, I went back with the thought I was going to get myself healthy, and I was going to get to come back. I figured that's the way it was going to be. I didn't think any other way. That's what I was preparing for every day. That's what I got up every morning to work for. That's what ended up happening.''

What did you do when the Steelers released you?

"I was training. I went back and got a team of guys to help me heal my hamstring, make sure I was ready. Just being ready for the call at any time. The last few years, I've been hurt a bit. I've been in this situation a lot. I just stay at it every day. I had practice every day, except I did it every day in Arizona rather than doing it here.''

Punters tend to move around a lot. This is your 10th NFL team. …

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