I didn't need to see Eric Ebron's face during our call on Wednesday morning to know he was smiling.
It was in his voice, in the energetic way he talked about his new team, in the passion he had answering every question I asked him.
"That is just me. People have no idea," said Ebron. "It's going to be so much fun. I am a fun-loving guy. When it comes to football, that is what I want to do."
Ebron, the free agent tight end the Steelers recently signed after he played for the Colts and Lions, is ready to bring that energy to the black and gold.
"You never hear anything bad about Pittsburgh," said Ebron. "No matter who I talked to, former players, players who are there now, they all told me the same thing. It's fun to be here. You can be yourself.
The Steelers know how to run an organization. They are winning and they do it in the right way. That is all I ever heard.
"I have so much respect for Mike Tomlin and it's because Mike Tomlin always takes all of the blame. It doesn't matter, any situation, anything. He is the type of coach you want to play for. He isn't going to sugar coat anything, he isn't going to make excuses. He knows that whatever happens on the field is a product of he is allowing it or teaching it. The team is always a representation of him. For him to want me to be a part of it, and me being a part of it, it's an honor. I have always loved Mike Tomlin. I have talked to him after games, when we had joint practices (while with the Lions), because he is that cool guy you always have a connection with."
He can't wait to join his new teammates, which is on hold for now, including many that he already knows like Joe Haden and JuJu Smith-Schuster. And he especially is looking forward to getting to know quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Ebron has always admired Roethlisberger's on-field talents, something he even tweeted about two years ago, after watching Steelers games at the home of one of his high school football coaches.
"I have always had this love for Big Ben," said Ebron. "One of my old high school coaches was the biggest Steelers fan ever, and biggest Tar Heel fan. I went to North Carolina and he was ecstatic. I would always be at his house and he we would be watching Pittsburgh. I had this love for Big Ben.
"I am excited. I can't wait. Ben has earned so many stripes in this league. You know you are playing with a guy who is a winner. He is a fighter. He has played through so many tough injuries, done things to will his team to win, and won two Super Bowls. It's going to be fun to get to learn from him. I came from two really good quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck, who has a genius mind. For me to go to Ben Roethlisberger who is like them as far as competing and willing their team to victory is fun."
His goal is once the time comes for him and Roethlisberger to work together that they can build a relationship and level of comfort that he can be a go-to guy for the offense.
"I hope to be that safety blanket, that go-to, that loved tight end that everybody wants," said Ebron. "That is all you hear. That Ben loves his tight end. It's going to be pretty cool to see what we can do together. I have been texting him asking him as many questions as I can as early as I can. I want to pick his brain. If I can be his best friend and we can think the same, good things happen. That is really all I am trying to do."
General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke about Ebron during a media conference call this week and said he liked his athleticism, red zone production and run-after-catch ability. There is something else Ebron said he brings.
"I am a playmaker. That is all I have ever said since I was in college," said Ebron. "I won't be vocal as far as telling you things, but I am a playmaker. I just go out there and try to make plays. That is what I want to bring to the team. Another weapon people have to respect, have to honor, have to get out of their coverages and those things. Plus, it helps Ben identify what they are doing, it's another weapon people have to respect, people have to honor, people have to get out of their disguises and coverages. It helps Ben and makes his job easier, makes my job easier because we are all on the same page. I am just trying to make as many plays as I can, win as many games as I can and be the best teammate I can be. That is ultimately what wins you games. That is it.
"And red zone, that was an area I learned how to manipulate with the Colts and studied hard. I want to make as many plays to help the team get to that area, because if we can get to that area, we have an opportunity for points. It is my job to help us get to the red zone and run after catch is how you do it."
Ebron is already getting to work on the playbook after being provided with some information from the coaches
"I should easily adapt. I love football. I study it," said Ebron. "They sent me some basic information packets about formations and stuff, and it's stuff I've heard before. All I want to do is get with Ben because I want to hear his lingo. Everybody has a different language they speak. I want to understand what language he speaks. I want to understand what he thinks and what plays are his favorite, his go-to. Understanding the playbook should be easy. I just look forward to seeing how Ben sees the game."
And while he isn't able to work out with this teammates now, he isn't sitting idle. He just ordered some new tools of the trade, and his wife Gabby will soon be his teammate.
"I just ordered a Jugs machine, a tennis ball machine," said Ebron. "I am dying not being able to practice. I ordered things I can do at home. I am excited because I can do some things football wise the next few days. My wife is going to have to help me. She has no choice. My boys aren't old enough yet. It's her responsibility."