Phoenix firefighter played in 2009 Super Bowl against the Cardinals

Before fighting fires, Roy Lewis was running plays, sweeps, reverses, and blitzes, wearing number 30 on the gridiron.
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 5:57 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 7:12 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - From the football field to the firehouse, Phoenix Fire engineer Roy Lewis worked his way up the ranks coming off an NFL career that had him playing at the peak of the game. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 Super Bowl beating the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa Bay. “Not too often you get the chance to live both dreams in one lifetime,” Lewis said. And you could not meet a more humble man.

He showed us around Firehouse 18, where he’s always waiting for the bell to go off. “Game time,” he chuckled as the alarm sounded a callout. That inherent hunger and adrenal rush are engrained second nature for him.

Before fighting fires and running calls in Nomex and Kevlar turnouts, he was running plays, sweeps, reverses, and blitzes, wearing number 30 on the gridiron. “I look back on it almost feels like it was another lifetime ago,” Lewis said. It also feels like just yesterday. He played cornerback for the Steelers.

“Take an undrafted, rookie free agent from the University of Washington who prides himself on working hard, I just kept my head down and just kept grinding and grinding. Next thing I knew, I looked up and we’re in a playoff run,” Lewis said. And they made it all the way to the 2009 Super Bowl for a showdown with the Arizona Cardinals.

And that game, in many ways, is like a parable for life. They didn’t win it until the very end. The Cards were up until the last 35 seconds when Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes made a 6-yard game-winning touchdown catch. Lewis says it’s a simple lesson he will carry with him always. “You don’t quit, no matter what. There’s always a play to be made. There’s always something you can do,” he said.

“If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. If you can’t crawl, you scratch, you snort, you grunt, you do all those things that we’ve been taught through the beautiful game of football to continue to persist,” Lewis said. And he’s applied that mentality to his seven years with Phoenix Fire. “We find a way to overcome adversity to help those on their worst day,” Lewis said.

The firehouse is his locker room, where there’s no doubt the same pride of fellowship and camaraderie with this team and fire family. “There’s never a dull moment and no one call is exactly the same. And for me, I love that, right? It’s like play calling, you never know what you’re going to get,” Lewis said.

It’s a rather common transition from pro football to firefighting, as four former NFL players are working for the Phoenix Fire Department right now.