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Lions sign former Steelers LB Foote to one-year contract

ALLEN PARK, MICH. -- Larry Foote had other offers in other cities and from teams who weren't coming off one of the worst seasons in NFL history.

But in the end, the chance to come home and help the Detroit Lions rebuild was all the incentive the free-agent linebacker needed.

Foote, who spent the past seven years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said Tuesday that he asked for a trade from the team he helped lead to two Super Bowls since 2005. And while he drew interest from other franchises willing to offer the former University of Michigan standout a two-year contract, Foote was more than willing to come prove himself in his hometown.

"I want to win, and I'm a competitor," Foote told reporters Wednesday after signing a one-year deal with the Lions. "I didn't look at the record, I said, 'Shoot, I'm going to help them,' and it's a fresh start.

"I want to win, and I don't believe the hype of rebuilding. I think if you get enough guys believing in one goal and believe in the system, we can win."

Financial terms of Foote's deal weren't disclosed. Foote spent time in Detroit on Tuesday meeting with Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand.

Foote, who was the Steelers' starting inside linebacker over the past five seasons, joins a new-look Lions defense that includes tackle Grady Jackson and linebacker Julian Peterson. The philosophy also has changed behind first-year coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who have put an emphasis on stopping the run behind a bulked-up defensive line.

Foote led the Steelers with 123 tackles in 2005, when Pittsburgh won a Super Bowl title at Ford Field in Detroit. Foote believes he is part of a defense that can help turn around the Lions' on-field fortunes.

"The talent's definitely there, but that's just on paper," Foote said. "You have to go out there and do it."

Foote will be one of 13 linebackers on the Lions' roster.

Foote said Wednesday that his time in Pittsburgh had "run its course," opening the doors for new opportunities. But in addition to making a presence on the field, Foote said he will take advantage of being back in his hometown.

Foote recently bought a home in the Detroit area and plans to become a part of a city that -- like its NFL franchise -- is hoping to recover from its share of struggles.

"This is my home," Foote said. "When I am done playing, I'm going to be back here, and that's part of the reason why I wanted to come here.

"Detroit's hurting a little bit and there's a lot of kids going down the wrong direction."

But Foote, who played high school football at Detroit Pershing before starring at Michigan, believes his hometown could be moving in a new direction.

Foote signed his contract one day after former Detroit Pistons Hall of Famer Dave Bing was elected as the city's mayor.

"Detroit is on the up-and-up," Foote said. "We've got a new team, we've got a new mayor and we can't do nothing but go up. But people have to be willing to roll up their sleeves and get to the root of it and turn things around."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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