Former Steelers LT Willie Colon says he couldn't sleep ahead of Ravens games

Mike DePrisco
·2 min read

Former Steeler wouldn't sleep ahead of clashes with Ravens originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As the Ravens and Steelers get set to add another chapter to their bitter rivalry, it's hard not to look back at the time when the rivalry was at its peak in the late 2000s. 

Both were contenders in the AFC, both were built on the success of their defenses and each team had Hall of Famers on that side of the ball, whether it be Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Troy Polamalu or James Harrison. 

The games were hotly contested, physical bouts between two teams that simply did not like each other. Those matchups were so intense that former Steelers left tackle Willie Colon admitted that he had trouble sleeping in the week leading up to the games.  

"Leading up to that week I would have anxiety," Colon said on Ryen Russilo's podcast. "It was hard for me to sleep leading up to gameday because I knew it wasn't no pussyfooting around, there wasn't anything we were gonna do that they didn't know and vice versa. We just knew each other. 

"The guy you're going against, he had hell in his eyes. He had evil intent so you had to muster another level of saying, 'Listen man, I ain't gettin got today,'" he said. "If it takes for us to get in the middle of the ring and bang it out, that's the type of day we're gonna have."

The guy typically across from Colon was two-time All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who was known as one of the most physically imposing linemen of his era. Colon, who was 6-3 and 315 pounds, rarely dealt with defenders that were bigger than him. Ngata (6-4, 340lb) was a unique case.

"Haloti Ngata was the hardest person I ever had to block," Colon said. "We came out at roughly the same time, he was just as big as I was, he was just as physical as I was, just as nasty, he had everything. When you're going up against somebody who pound-for-pound match you, what do you do? The only thing is just to fight."

At the end of the day though, the Ravens-Steelers rivalry wasn't so incredibly stressful for players like Colon because of the stakes or his hatred for the other side. It was the physical nature of the games themselves.

"I wasn't scared, but your manhood was gonna be challenged," he said. "I don't know how you were raised, but you definitely don't wanna get dumped in front of your daddy or your mama. You don't mind getting beat up in front of your friends, but you don't wanna get beat up in front of your parents. My whole family watched [the games]."