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Where Are They Now? Delton Hall

Thursday, May 01, 2003

By Rich Emert

The Steelers made Rod Woodson their No. 1 draft choice in 1987, but it was No. 2 choice Delton Hall who made the biggest impact as a rookie that year.

Hall, who earned the nickname "Beltin' Delton," started in the secondary and was named the team's rookie of the year. He also earned All-Rookie honors for the league.

A Clemson graduate, Hall played for the Steelers from 1987-91 and then had two seasons with the Chargers. He intercepted five passes in his career with the Steelers, including three as a rookie, and returned one for a score.

Hall also was in on more than 100 tackles and was outstanding in passing situations late in his career. He scored a touchdown on a 50-yard fumble recovery against the 49ers in his first game as a rookie.

At Clemson, he was first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference and had 135 career tackles and six interceptions. Hall, 38, lives in Brighton Heights with his wife, Corinne; son, Shelton; and daughter, Litisha. He also has two stepdaughters, Rachel and Brooke, and works for Giant Eagle in distribution.

Q: What was draft day like for you?

A: I wasn't nervous or anything. I knew it was just a matter of when and where I'd be taken. The two teams that showed the most interest in me were the Steelers and the Raiders. They were the only teams I really wanted to go to because they had the same type of physical players that I was.

Q: Why do you think the Steelers liked you?

A: I think I proved myself to be good at pass coverage in college. I allowed only five touchdowns my college career and I think they liked that. They needed defensive backs, which is why they drafted Rod, Thomas Everett and myself in the same year.

Q: Are you surprised Rod Woodson is still playing?

A: Rod is a great athlete and a great player, but he was more of a finesse guy. Thomas Everett and myself were more physical players. We'd come up and put a big hit on a running back or a receiver. We weren't the biggest guys out there and coming up and doing that takes a toll on your body after a while. That's one of the reasons we didn't play a long, long time. But we had to be reckless and big hitters if we wanted to play in the league.

Q: Did you have the nickname "Beltin' Delton" in college?

A: No. That came from the Steelers fans after I got here. They gave that to me because of the way I hit people. I liked to come up and hit guys hard. I liked to get those skull and crossbones for a big hit.

Q: Is cornerback the toughest position to play?

A: They talk about you being out there alone and that's the way it is. What I was good at was the bump and run, when you could hit a receiver. I think the league changed the rules on that because of the Steelers ... because we were physical and would hit receivers. You've got to understand that a good passing game is based on timing, and if you hit that receiver coming off the line and bump him again and throw that timing off you've got a good chance. We had guys in the secondary who were physical.

Q: Were you always a cornerback?

A: In high school in North Carolina I was a tailback and a linebacker. I was a decent running back but I always like playing defense and hitting people better.

Q: Who were some of the toughest players you had to tackle?

A: I tackled Walter Payton, who was tough, and Barry Sanders. Those guys were tough to catch because they had moves. The big backs who were tough to bring down were James Brooks from Cincinnati and Christian Okoye from Kansas City. Emmitt Smith from the Cowboys was also tough to bring down.

Q: What was the hardest hit you ever put on a player?

A: The hardest hit I think I put on a guy came in a Monday night game against the Giants. They had a back ... Dave Meggett, who wasn't a real big guy but he was tough. I came up and hit him so hard that I knocked myself out. I saw the ball going to him and I took a run at him. I hit him by the hash marks and knocked him clear to the sidelines.

Q: Were you trying to send a message when you hit guys that hard?

A: Sure. You hit a guy two or three times like that and they start looking for you. When they are doing that, they aren't playing their best. You've got an edge.

Q: What's your best memory of playing for the Steelers?

A: It would probably be returning a fumble for a touchdown and getting an interception against the 49ers in 1987. That game stands out because of those plays and because we won. I had a pretty good rookie season. I didn't have any injuries and I started all the games.

Q: Why did you settle down in Pittsburgh?

A: Even when I went to San Diego, which has great weather, I never truly left Pittsburgh. There are great fans here and they appreciate if you play hard. I got involved in something here and just didn't want to leave. I still talk to Mr. [Dan] Rooney and I know and talk to some of the players. I've gotten to know Jerome Bettis a little bit and I go to a lot of the functions they have for Steelers alumni.

Do you have an idea for a Where are they Now? E-mail it to emert196@attbi.com.

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