Former University of Pittsburgh football player Joey DelSardo tells his story


MOON TOWNSHIP — Joey DelSardo talks to students at Robert Morris (Tyler Gallo/RMU Sentry Media).

Tyler Gallo, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP — Last Thursday night, Joey DelSardo, former University of Pittsburgh wide receiver, came to Robert Morris University’s Hopwood Hall to tell his life story about his battle with addiction. From having the No. 1 play of the week on SportsCenter to stealing from his family to get high, DelSardo shared his story.

The talk started with a video message from DelSardo’s good friend, former Indianapolis Colts safety Jamie Silva, followed by some highlights from DelSardo’s Pitt football career, including the aforementioned No. 1 play on SportsCenter.

DelSardo then took the floor and started to recount his story. He talked about wanting to be in the NFL when he was younger and said that he never even thought about doing drugs.

In high school, he got injured, however, and turned to pills to help with the pain. “It went from being only before games, then I started taking it before practices, then multiple times a day.” This pill addiction quickly evolved into a heroin and cocaine addiction.

He was at a low after high school, but quickly turned his life around when he walked-on to the Pitt football team. He worked hard every day, and curbed his addiction and became one of the top wide-outs for the Panthers. Through No. 1 plays on SportsCenter to having a career night in the Fiesta Bowl in his junior year, Joey was back on top.

However, his coach told him that he was going to be benched his senior year, and Joey took this very hard. He called a friend he knew, and Joey locked himself in a room and got high on OxyContin for two days straight. He got back into addiction, including stealing from his family, so he could get his fix. The lowest, he said, was one day he was in a bad area to get drugs, and was held at gunpoint because he was at the wrong place. This is when Joey knew he needed help.

He admitted his problem to his parents and got help in a treatment center. His addiction soon dissipated, and he turned his life around. He was a coach at first, and then became a trainer, where he trained NFL players and other football players.

Nowadays, Joey is almost 12 years clean and is in a very good place. He has a wife and children and hosts a sports podcast with his brother Ralph known as “The Brudders in the ‘Burgh”. He has recently interviewed Bubba Ventrone, former NFL safety, and Lance Moore, former NFL wide receiver.

Joey has told his story at countless businesses and schools on the east coast, and he says it helps him as well as everyone else when he recounts his story. “Me trying to help other people, helps me try to remember what I have,” said DelSardo. “There’s no better joy than helping someone because I know how deep it could go.”

His advice for someone in a similar situation to him is to not shy away from help. “Sometimes when you’re in it [addiction] you feel trapped. People close to you, around you and at the school want to help you. They want to see you overcome it. Don’t feel hesitant to ask for help,” said DelSardo.

If you, or anyone you know, is dealing with mental health issues or drug addiction, you can contact the RMU counseling center at 412-397-5900 or go to their office at the lower level at Patrick Henry. For more information, head to their website.