Mesko sports his first Steelers jacket
At the time he didn't understand much about American sports, but found a Steelers jacket and it worked, even deep in enemy territory.
"I randomly found the Steelers jacket," recalled Mesko, who hadn't even remembered it until his mother sent him pictures this week. "I had no clue then if they were a football team, baseball team or what."
He certainly knows now, as the new Steelers punter will be sporting plenty of black and gold this season. Mesko spent the last three years with the New England Patriots, but was cut over the weekend when teams got down to the mandatory 53-man rosters.
"I thought I had a really good camp," said Mesko. "I didn’t expect it. But this is the game we sign up for. We understand on paper what it's like to be cut, but the actual experience can never become familiar."
He said it wasn't easy saying goodbye, even posting a heartfelt message on his Facebook page.
"I would like to think of myself as a stoic person, but I had some internal tears," he admitted. "It's tough when you get to know someone, share experiences with them and depart on sudden notice."
While it was a bittersweet ending for him, it triggered the start of a whole new chapter in his career. The day after he was released the Steelers got in touch to bring him in for a tryout.
"They called within the hour of me being cleared off of waivers, cleared from waivers. This is my first experience so I don't know the lingo," said Mesko. "It was relieving to know there is something else out there. Having the opportunity to come out here to showcase my skills to such a great organization was humbling."
He worked out at the team's practice facility following Monday's practice and they liked what they saw. Mesko was signed, and Drew Butler, who had outlasted the competition from Brian Moorman in the preseason, was cut.
"When I left Boston I asked for the longevity. They said if all goes well pack for a week and then you can ship some more stuff," said Mesko. "That's what I did. I didn't want to put too much hope into it, but I was trying to do my best to impress whoever was there to see me. It was a spur of the moment thing. It's a pretty neat experience."
Mesko spent most of Tuesday getting to know the coaches, watching film and learning everything he can about the organization.
"There have been a million names thrown at me and I am trying to remember them," he said. "I will learn everyone. In the end I feel like everything happens for a reason and I was so happy to be picked up by the Steelers who are an amazing organization. I am so glad to be here."