From Glory Days with Charlie Batch
Charlie Batch was born and raised in Homestead, Pennsylvania, approximately five minutes from the training facilities of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Growing up he played both football and basketball, and would have continued with basketball if not for his success with football, although Charlie loved basketball because it was easier to find a game with multiple players.
When scouts from Eastern Michigan University came to a high school football game to watch Charlie’s childhood friend, Richard Walker, they were so impressed with Charlie at quarterback that he quickly drew the scouts’ attention and was invited to tour the EMU campus after the game. He now admits that he had no idea where Eastern Michigan or Ypsilanti, Michigan was located, and despite a strong desire to attend the University of Pittsburgh, Charlie thought Eastern Michigan was a more viable option and committed to play at EMU.
As a back-up quarterback in 1994, Charlie Batch was sent into the final game of the year against the University of Toledo Rockets while the Eagles were down 17-3 near the end of the first quarter. Charlie led Eastern Michigan to a great come back and threw a winning touchdown with no time left on the clock. The following offseason, Eastern made a coaching change and the new coaches believed in Charlie so much that they did not recruit a new starting quarterback.
The confidence from the coaches was good news for Charlie that offseason, but he was unexpectedly faced with a challenge when his mother asked him to come home but would not tell him why. Finally giving in to Charlie’s insistent requests, his mother gave him the worst news of his life. His 17 year old sister, Danyl, had been killed in a gang related shooting, as one gang member used her as a human shield and she was caught in the crossfire. Clearly distraught and focused on supporting his mother, Charlie was unsure if he would ever return to Ypsilanti, and received the blessing of his coaches to do what was best for him and his family. Following his sister’s funeral, Charlie realized that he had another family back at Eastern Michigan that needed him as well and was determined to become the first member of his family to graduate from college. With support of both his mother, teammates, and coaches Charlie returned to EMU where he would go on to break numerous football records.
After becoming a local favorite in Ypsilanti, he was drafted by the Detroit Lions who made him their franchise quarterback. In his rookie year, he had the benefit of playing alongside future Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, which took a lot of pressure off of the rookie quarterback. The following offseason, Barry Sanders stunned the football world with his unexpected retirement and departure from professional football. As a result, Charlie became the new face of the Lions offense, and after a few up and down years that included injuries, the newly-hired general manager Matt Millen released Charlie.
The story doesn’t end there, as Charlie wound up returning to hometown of Pittsburgh as a member of the Steelers. At first, it was surreal for him, as he would be given a locker next to Hall of Famer Jerome “The Bus” Bettis who Charlie admired when he was younger. Although, primarily the backup behind veteran quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie would win two Super Bowls with the Steelers, the first of which ironically came in Detroit at the very Lions’ stadium where he played previously. It also happened to be the final game for Jerome Bettis, who had yet to win a Super Bowl in his career.
Three years later the Steelers would win the Super Bowl again. Charlie remembers the winning play like it was yesterday where Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. After the referees reviewed and confirmed the play, Charlie remembers him and his teammates celebrating like young NFL rookies.
In 2012, Charlie was now 38 and in the final year of his contract. He began preparing for his inevitable retirement and took advantage of the NFL entrepreneurs program by taking classes at multiple universities to prepare him for life after sports. After a few starts in place of the injured Roethlisberger, he had played his final NFL game.
Following his professional football career, Charlie Batch pursues many passions including motivational speaking. He refers to his playing days when he was a spokesperson for United Way and realized his love of encouraging people to support their cause. Charlie also created a sports medicine technology company named Impellia. His inspiration for Impellia came from the top notch rehabilitation care he received as an NFL player which motivated him to want everybody who was going through injury rehabilitation to have access to that same technology.
Despite the many successes Charlie continued to have after sports, his most cherished is his Foundation titled, “The Best of the Batch,” started in part to honor his late sister’s memory while looking to take kids off the streets. The foundation reaches over 3,300 children from age seven through college. Most of these children came from rough backgrounds like him and his goal for the foundation is to make sure no family has to go through the heartbreak his family went through when sister, Danyl, was violently taken from his family.
When it comes to giving people advice for transitions in life, Charlie recommends the 5 Ps method: proper preparation prevents poor performance. He feels that by following that method, people can achieve anything they set their minds to.
You can find out more about Charlie Batch, his motivational speaking, Impellia, and The Best of the Batch Foundation on his website.
You can also catch Charlie Batch’s full TV interview on From Glory Days this Sunday, February 11th on TV20 Detroit at 6:00 a.m. Set your alarms or DVRs to hear Charlie’s story directly from this two-time Super Bowl Champion himself.
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