While this was a move that Steelers' fans have expected for months, I was sorry to hear that Foote was (or will be) released. Because they are butting up against the salary cap, this was a move that had to happen.
But, Larry Foote had quite the start to his career in Pittsburgh. He will leave having started in, and won, two Super Bowls including one in front of his hometown fans in Detroit. Very few players in the history of the game can say that. It was overshadowed by the Bettis storyline that surrounded that Super Bowl, but it was clearly special for Foote.
Foote was a Steelers' type of player. He was a classic overachiever who played hard on every down, a fourth-round draft choice who was not really supposed to make it in the league as a starter, but one who developed into a very good inside linebacker on the NFL's best defense.
In his last six seasons in Pittsburgh, Foote played in every game and started 83 of them. That is quite a record of durability in today's NFL.
He was a key run stuffer in the middle of their defense. Foote finished his black-and-gold career with 431 tackles and 14.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries.
While known more as a run stuffer, he also had three interceptions and broke up 11 passes.
Foote was a high character guy. One of my favorite features on Inside the NFL was the Christmas special they did on Larry Foote learning he had a young son. Instead of walking away from the responsibility, he embraced it.
The special showed him and his teammates with his son with some great music in the background. It was very well done and stood in stark contrast to so many of the negative stories surrounding players in the league.
I also admire Foote for wanting to play for the Lions, despite their wretched past. This is a guy who grew up in Detroit, played college football at Michigan, and clearly cares very deeply about his struggling hometown. As a Pittsburgh guy who has seen his own rust-belt city go through ups and downs, that hometown pride is hard not to admire.
While I very much look forward to seeing Lawrence Timmons (with the athleticism and increasing ability he has shown), step into the starting role, it is too bad that had to come at the expense of Foote who has long seen the writing on the wall.
Foote is certainly not a Plaxico, a guy that the Steelers couldn't wait to see leave town despite his not insignificant talent, nor Joey Porter for that matter, sometimes known more for his mouth and off-field antics than his play on the field.
I have no doubt the Steelers would have loved to keep Foote on the roster for both depth and his excellent play.
So, I hope he does go to the Lions. His attitude and play will help that struggling franchise. And he'll be able to show off his two Steelers' rings to add motivation in the locker room.
Foote can give the Lions a crash course in the Steelers' way.