During the four seasons that 6-foot-8 offensive tackle Zach Banner played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he appeared in just 22 games and made two starts. But in that time Banner maintained an outsized presence on social media, so it was fitting that he took to Twitter on April 2 to say goodbye to Steelers fans.
“These last couple weeks have been difficult and hard,” he admitted up front, “but before I left, I just wanted to say ‘bye.’
“I think since 2020—since the (ACL) injury—I have been, you know, seeking to fight back and it has just been uphill from here. And I’m gonna keep pursuing the same dream that I had before the injury, it’s just unfortunately not going to be here in Pittsburgh. I’ve come to accept that,” he added, making reference to his goal of being a starting tackle in the NFL, as well as the fact that the Steelers recently cut him loose.
Banner concludes by saying: “I’m gonna be alright, and I just wanted to say thank you to all the fans and to the whole city…. Thank you to my friends and to my teammates that I met over the last couple years. The city means so much to me and it will be hard saying bye, but no punch lines and no mic drops nothing, just love yinz.
The remainder of the two-minute video shows Banner, 28, saying goodbye to Steelers coaches and staffers, with Styx’s “Renegade” as the accompaniment.
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The Steelers Saved $5 Million by Releasing Banner
Not everyone is sad to see Banner go. Two weeks ago, provocative Pittsburgh sports personality Mark Madden celebrated the departure of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Zach Banner’s release on March 16, calling it the end of the Steelers’ “Showbiz Era.”
Banner has always been adept at utilizing social media, but he missed almost all of the 2020 season after tearing his ACL against the New York Giants in the season opener. Nevertheless, the Steelers re-signed him to a new two-year deal in March 2021.
Yet he played only 32 snaps in 2021, providing the Steelers with all the incentive they needed to release him and save his $5 million salary for 2022.
That said, Banner will be best remembered for his cult hero status as a tackle eligible, drawing cheers on more than a handful of occasions in 2019 when Heinz Field public address announcer Larry Richert intoned: “No. 72 is reporting as an eligible receiver.”
He’ll also be remembered for his lip sync of Irene Cara’s “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” at the team’s 2019 fashion show fundraiser, as well as his re-creation of the iconic dance scene from the movie Flashdance the following summer.
Last but not least, Banner will be appreciated for his efforts to fight racism and hate, his partnership with the Challah Back Girls being a representative example.
But he will leave Pittsburgh without realizing his dream of catching an NFL pass, which is why he feigned outrage when Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass to extra tackle Jerald Hawkins while he was on injured reserve in 2020. And why he expressed mock outrage in the summer of that year when he was left out of a team promo celebrating the team’s pass catching tight ends.
It’s unclear whether Banner will get another chance to try to resurrect his career with another team. If this is it for him, the former fourth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts will finish his professional career having appeared in 30 NFL games, which followed in the wake of his college career with the USC Trojans.
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