Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back James Conner has beaten Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Marshawn Lynch, Ezekiel Elliot and Von Miller to nab the top spot in jersey sales this week, before he’s even played a professional down. Conner, who was taken in the third round by the Steelers with the 105th pick, is inspiring fans around the league with his story of resilience.
“It’s a dream come true,” Conner told ESPN, after being picked by Pittsburgh. “They gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, and they are going to get a hard worker and a great football player.”
Conner was a force on the field for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, earning 2014 ACC Player of the year before being sidelined for the 2015 season by Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He returned to morning workouts with the team while receiving chemotherapy, and was declared cancer-free in time for the 2016 season.
He returned to score 16 touchdowns for the Panthers, gaining the attention of Steelers running backs coach James Saxon.
“He runs the football downhill, he can bend, he can catch the football,” Saxon told ESPN. “He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s a guy who will come here and work every day.”
Conner’s jersey had been selling well among rookies according to Dick’s Sporting Goods, which tracks player sales. He’s gained a legion of support among Steelers fans and interacts with many on Twitter.
On July 25, Conner tweeted about the news of his jersey sales.
“New week, wow. Top spot!” he posted, alongside a photo of the sales.