Steve McLendon, the Pittsburgh Steelers 6-foot-4, 320-pound nose tackle, might be the biggest man to ever strap on a pair of ballet slippers.
McLendon has been taking ballet classes since his senior season at Troy University, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
His instructor for the past four years has been Stephanie Kibler.
“I work him harder than the majority of women will ever work in a ballet setting,” Kibler said. “He does it well. He might have sweat dripping off him and looking at me like I’m crazy, but he does it. He really works hard. It’s almost like he’s mastering the craft of ballet. He’s not in there just for football.”
McLendon says ballet helps prevent injuries.
“It keeps you injury free, your ankles, keeps your feet strong, your toes strong, you get away from knee injuries,” McLendon said. “I can tell when I don’t do it in my body.”
Said instructor Kibler: “What’s good about what he does, it’s not just for the grace and control, but it helps strengthen areas that may be open to injury. We are strengthening those areas that tend to be a little weaker. He steps it up.”
This season, the Steelers are hoping McLendon, who signed a three-year, $7.25 million deal, can come in and replace veteran leader Casey Hampton.
“Casey was way better than me holding three guys,” McLendon said. “I’m a little smaller than Casey, so I can rush the passer. That’s what it’s all about. I have to use my abilities to help me be successful in this defense.”