Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley knows the pressure of playing in a great sports town like Pittsburgh and he’ll no doubt feel some of that pressure as the owner of his new Professional Bowlers Association League team the Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits.
The PBA League makes its debut with a live telecast of the first round Sunday at noon ET on ESPN from Thunderbowl Lanes in suburban Detroit.
Woodley is the owner of the PBA League’s Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits, a team that consists of franchise player and three-time PBA Tour winner Osku Palermaa of Finland; 13-time Tour winner Patrick Allen of Wesley Chapel, Fla.; international champions Martin Larsen of Sweden and Thomas Larsen of Denmark, and former Saginaw Valley State All-American Dan MacLelland. Former PBA Rookie of the Year Anthony LaCaze of Melrose Park, Ill., is the team’s supplemental player.
Woodley, a member of the 2008 Super Bowl champion Steelers who hails from Saginaw, Mich., is confident his team can live up to the winning Pittsburgh sports tradition.
“I’m excited about it because I get to be an owner of a team in a sports league,” said Woodley, who also was an All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at the University of Michigan. “I think I’ve got the best team, from the best city, with the best logo.”
Woodley shared an interesting story about how he came up with the Jack Rabbits name and incorporated it into his team’s logo.
“When I got drafted by the Steelers, I lived in a section of Pittsburgh called Washington Landing and one of the the first things I noticed about living there was that there were so many rabbits around - they were everywhere,” he said. “Pittsburgh has some great names for their sports teams so I thought Jack Rabbits would a good name to add to the mix.”
As a PBA League team owner Woodley admitted to feeling a little pressure owning a PBA League team.
“Pittsburgh is a city of champions so there will probably be a little pressure from our sports fans who take their sports pretty seriously,” he said. “I’ll give the team all the support I can and hopefully we can bring home another championship to Pittsburgh.”
While Woodley began bowling as a youngster, his interest in the sport was re-ignited when he was invited to compete in NBA superstar Chris Paul’s PBA League All-Stars celebrity charity bowling tournament which he has competed in the last two years.
"I've always bowled since I was a little kid and my mom and dad bowled a lot," Woodley said. “Whether it’s bowling in Chris’ tournament or owning a PBA League team, it’s a great opportunity to promote PBA and the sport.”
Other teams and owners making up the PBA League are: NFL superstars Jerome Bettis (Motown Muscle) and Terrell Owens (Dallas Strikers); Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (L.A. X); sports icon Billie Jean King (New York City WTT KingPins); Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams (BROOKLYN STyLES), and comedians Chris Hardwick (Silver Lake Atom Splitters) and Kevin Hart (Philadelphia Hitmen).
Four additional preliminary rounds of PBA League competition will be taped during the Detroit Winter Swing Jan. 26 and 27. The top four teams based on points after the five preliminary rounds will advance to the PBA League Elias Cup Finals, named after PBA founder Eddie Elias, which will be contested at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 31 for telecast on Sunday, April 7 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.