PITTSBURGH (AP) Six months ago, Stefen Wisniewski's Sundays consisted of spending the afternoon watching the NFL on TV wondering if his phone was ever going to ring. The veteran offensive lineman tried not to fixate on the circumstances that led to him sitting on the couch.
''You try not to drive yourself crazy with the why,'' Wisniewski said. ''I've kind of learned to not go crazy, trying to figure out why everything is happening.''
So Wisniewski relied on his faith to get him through, optimistic an opportunity would eventually come. It ended up working better than he ever imagined.
And in February, Wisniewski was on the field earning his second Super Bowl ring in three years while starting for the Kansas City Chiefs. This week his nomadic and recently charmed journey through the NFL finally led him home when the Pittsburgh native signed a two-year deal to join the Steelers.
Though the Chiefs expressed interest in keeping the 31-year-old Wisniewski, the opportunity to play for the team he grew up watching was too good to pass up. He'll be vying for a chance to replace the recently retired Ramon Foster at left guard.
''I knew it'd be an open job and that was exciting,'' Wisnewski said Friday. '' It's even more exciting because it's not just any starting job, it's a starting job for the Pittsburgh Steelers ... I did have a few other options but it's hard to turn down your hometown team.''
Wisniewski grew up in the Pittsburgh suburbs and remembers scrambling home from church every Sunday during the fall in time for kickoffs to catch his favorite team. He played at Heinz Field in high school and daydreamed of one day joining his father Leo and uncle Steve in the NFL. Dressing in black-and-gold seemed to be a bridge too far. Both his dad and his uncle spent their entire careers with one team, Leo with the Baltimore Colts, Steve with the Raiders.
Stefen Wisniewski's path has been considerably more winding. He bounced from Oakland to Jacksonville to Philadelphia during his first six seasons, toiling away on clubs that finished with a losing record every year. The streak finally ended in 2017, when he helped anchor an offensive line as the Eagles beat New England in the Super Bowl. Philadelphia, however, declined to pick up his option last spring, making him a free agent.
Weeks passed. Then months. And Wisniewski wondered if he'd ever play again. Then injuries forced the Chiefs to reach out a month into the 2019 season. By December he was starting, then came that remarkable playoff run when Kansas City rallied three times to win the franchise's first Super Bowl in a half-century.
Now the player who worried he'd never reach the postseason has as many rings as new teammate Ben Roethlisberger.
''Yeah, I've been really blessed,'' said Wisniewski, who added the early struggles made him appreciate how hard it is to get to one Super Bowl, let alone two.
Wisniewski joins one of the league's most experienced lines even with Foster deciding to step away after more than a decade on the job. Center Maurkice Pouncey is entering his 11th season, right guard David DeCastro his ninth, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva his sixth as a starter.
''It's easy to play next to veterans because they've seen it all,'' Wisniewski said. '' They're good at communicating and that's something I do well is communicate and anticipate and I know the Steelers having a veteran line, I know that's something they're going to do.''
Wisnewski is doing what he can to stick to a normal routine during this most unusual offseason. The Penn State alum lives full-time in State College, Pennsylvania and typically gets his work in at the school's football facility. That's not an option at the moment with the school shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So he's lifting weights in his basement and lugging his 6-foot-3, 305-pound frame for runs at a nearby park. It's a small concession to make for what potentially awaits in the fall.
''I've been a starter most of my career,'' Wisniewski said. ''It's my goal and my plan to win that job.''
---
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Recent NFL Discussions

Live nascar racing on Sun, May 2020 by armyranger
Newsletters For The Week Of 5/15/20 on Sat, May 2020 by Shazman
Anypne betting sims? on Thu, May 2020 by danshan11
Hangin on Thu, May 2020 by Surfer
Loading...

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Predictions & Picks

Thumbnail Will Love Selection Spur Rodgers in GB? The Green Bay Packers dropped a huge hint over the future of quarterback Aaron Rodgers by picking Jordan Love in the 2020 Draft. The 36-year-old has been...
Thumbnail Eagles bring in Darius Slay The Philadelphia Eagles addressed a need in the secondary on Thursday morning by trading for Darius Slay. How does it impact their Super Bowl odds?
Thumbnail AFC East Predictions: Pats Still Best Bet? Despite losing Tom Brady, are the Patriots still the best bet to win the AFC East in 2020-21? Or has the Bills surpassed New England as the new king? Let’s examine...
Thumbnail Saints, 49ers Top Teams to Win NFC? Despite Tom Brady joining the NFC South, are the New Orleans Saints still the team to beat, not only in that division, but the entire conference? At least one...
Thumbnail Updated AFC Championship Odds With Tom Brady no longer wreaking havoc in the conference, are the Chiefs the clear favorites to win the AFC title again next season? What about the Ravens, who earned...