AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — “Whatever works for you, do it, but do more of it to further yourself and put yourself in the position, so when it comes down to it, whether that’s playing or practicing, you’re able to showcase your skills at a high impact.”
Those are the words of Amarillo native, Palo Duro High School alum and 11 year NFL defensive lineman Ziggy Hood sat down with us and discussed his time playing in the NFL, what he’s currently up to, and the lessons he strives to instill in young men every day.
Drafted with the 32nd pick of the first round in the 2009 NFL Draft, by the-then defending Super Bowl 43 champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Hood is no stranger to hard work, striving to be the best, or even being able to handle constructive criticism.
After all, those are the basic qualities that Hood said helped him reach the highest level of football. Another, and just as important part of the equation, the love and support from his parents, Charles and Mary.
“Fortunately, I had both of my parents, the support and the love that both of them bring, ” he said. “My dad was there at every game, back and forth. I can’t remember if he missed a practice or not. He did what he could in order to work, but not only that, showed support whether that was at practice or games. Driving from Amarillo, getting to Missouri, here to Pittsburgh whenever he can. Away games, home games, he did whatever he could to bring his support. Not only that, my other family, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, to get them to the games as much as possible, and just to have that love and support from him, drove me to do better.”
At the University of Missouri, Hood played defensive tackle and racked up 170 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback pressures in a career full of highlights for the Tigers.
In the NFL, Hood suited up for the Steelers, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears, the Washington Football Team, the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints. The love and support from his family, mixed with the lessons he learned throughout a stellar NFL career, are the same sources he draws off of now, as he works his way into coaching.
“With everything that I went through, things that I should’ve done better, by the time I’m halfway in my career, heading towards my back end of it, I knew so much stuff versus what I knew at the beginning,” he said. “If I can take that altogether and install that into somebody that’s coming up, whether that’s from college, even helping a professional, get them to take a further step in their career, probably give them a chance to make bigger bucks, I can keep passing that along and feel like ‘ok, this is one of my true callings’ to be able to do that.”
As the father of two kids now, one of whom is autistic, Hood is not only teaching lessons, but said he’s learning them as well.
“My oldest son Josiah, he has autism. So that’s something that I have to learn as the years come. It took me a while, because as men, we’re taught to keep our feelings shielded from the world,” he said. ” ‘You’ve gotta be tough, you’ve gotta be gritty and all that’. But now, it’s ok to shed tears, it’s ok to talk about your emotions.
Through those lessons, Hood strives to inspire and teach others that through adversity, you can still find positivity.
“I’m just doing what I can to try to better somebody’s life,” he said. “So it’s always something learned, and whenever I can make somebody else feel good, or somebody else feel better, then I feel like I done a good job that day.”
Good advice from a life full of lessons, love and support.