PITTSBURGH - Ted Zablocki heard the horror stories about professional athletes and, frankly, was quite turned off by them.
“How some of them are, you don't want them to be a role model to your kids,” Zablocki said.
Brett Keisel doesn't fall into that category.
The Steelers Pro Bowl defensive end hosted four boys ages 9-14 from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC at the Alpine Hunting and Fishing Club of Bridgeville for a VIP fishing outing unlike anything they'd done before.
One of those boys was Ted Zablocki's 9-year-old son Wesley.
“I was really excited when I found out I was coming here,” Wesley said while wearing his Keisel-provided “Da Beard” fishing vest. “And we caught a bunch of fish, too.”
Wesley Zablocki was joined by Matthew Goodreau, Tyler Skarzenski and Luke Ball as special guests of Keisel for a morning of fishing and an afternoon barbeque prepared by celebrity chef Joseph Tambellini.
“With these kids spending time in Children's Hospital is that it is a getaway,” Keisel said. “A lot of times being in the hospital you are in the same grind every day, and you can't get out and enjoy Mother Nature as much as you would like. I think they are enjoying coming out and doing something different, and maybe doing it with the bearded one isn't so bad either.”
Keisel is an avid outdoorsman and has been ever since growing up in Greybull, Wyo. When Keisel was drafted by the Steelers in 2002, he brought his love for the outdoors with him.
“I grew up doing this,” Keisel said. “This is what I would consider therapy — mental therapy — blocking everything out and coming out and watching the birds fly around. There are turtles rolling around in this lake this morning, the frogs were croaking all over the place. I love that. I love nature and being outside, and I am happy to share it with all these kids.”
Keisel and the boys caught fish ranging from bluegill to trout to bass. Wesley Zablocki may have caught the most fish (at least seven), but it was Ball who reeled in a 5-pound brown trout.
“These kids are pretty serious (fishermen),” Keisel said. “I asked them this morning who was going to catch the biggest fish, and they all raised their hands. It was a fun day.”
And Ted Zablocki may have a renewed view of professional athletes.
“Brett is a super guy,” Ted Zablocki said. “He is just a normal guy who likes to do the same things we do.”
This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.