Keisel wins athlete of the year award

June 25, 2007

Brett Keisel was a tad confused.

Me, Brett Keisel, the Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame's athlete of the year?


"At first, I thought, 'Am I on "Punk'd" or something?' I went to BYU," Keisel said.

It was true. The Greybull native indeed was the WSHOF's pick for the 2006 athlete of the year. For Keisel, the honor was one of many he had received since winning Super Bowl XL as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- but this one was a bit more special.

"It's amazing," Keisel said before Saturday night's WSHOF induction banquet in Casper. "When I first got the call, I thought it was a prank call. It's a very humbling experience. ... Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected that."

No pranks, no hidden cameras, no ulterior motives. Just the thanks of a state that's proud Keisel calls Wyoming home.

"He just felt so honored," said Keisel's mother, Connie. "He said, 'I can't believe that's going to happen to me.' He was overwhelmed."

Keisel's honor was among the highlights of Saturday's induction ceremony. Joe Dowler, Jim and Margie Fassler, Phil Kiner, Mila Rogers-Stender and the late Fritz Shurmur were inducted into the hall of fame, and Jim Core was given the hall's lifetime achievement award.

Also as part of the ceremony, Cheyenne Central's Brendan Ames and Hillary Carlson were each given the Milward Simpson Award, recognizing the top male and female senior high school athletes in Wyoming.

Keisel was the night's biggest attraction -- literally. At 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, Keisel was about 50 pounds heavier than he was during his playing days at Greybull. The competitive fire and the work ethic he had while playing with the Buffaloes, though, still exists.

"In everything he did, he wanted to win," said his high school classmate, Michael McGuire. "He's just a very competitive person. He practices hard, he works out hard. Everything he does, he puts his full commitment into it."

"Bull" Keisel, Brett's uncle, said he knew his nephew would be an NFL star early during his college career, which started at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.

"I watched him dominate a game in Arizona," he explained. "He took out both quarterbacks. The other coach came over and said, 'I'm down to my punter. Take him out of the game or we're not coming out of the locker room.' That's a true story."

Preparing to enter his sixth season with the Steelers, Keisel didn't stay in Wyoming long. He flew into Denver on Saturday and left early Sunday to return to Pittsburgh.

He plans on returning to Greybull in early July, though, for his 10-year class reunion.

"I love Wyoming," Keisel said. "It'll always be home."

No joke.