James Farrior has been there. Two years ago, he was on the receiving end of a similar telephone call to the one Larry Foote surely received last week. Farrior recognized the voice instantly and knew the worst was coming. It was Mike Tomlin, telling him his time with the Steelers was finished.

"That's when it really hit home," Farrior said Friday from his home in Houston, Texas. "You think they might bring you back, then you get the call and you know it's over. I'm sure it's been a rough couple days for [Foote]."

We on the outside and the players on the inside should be getting used to this. In the past two years, the Steelers have said goodbye to Farrior, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke, Max Starks and Casey Hampton, all players who, like Foote, helped the team get to three Super Bowls. But it never gets easier to see it happen. It's tough to watch good players -- good people -- move on to their life's work.

Foote was both with the Steelers. Actually, he's a better man than he was a player. I like to think he would take that as a compliment. If I'm ranking my all-time favorite Steelers as people, he would be in the top five.

Foote came a long way from a tough background and broken home in Detroit.

"Larry's personality helped," his high school football coach, Stephon Thompson, once said. "Everybody liked him. Even the thugs and drug dealers respected him. They let him alone because they knew he wasn't going to partake in that stuff."

Farrior was Foote's best friend on the Steelers. "Shake and Bake," they nicknamed themselves, inside linebackers on some great teams and great defenses. "I'm not sure who was shaking and who was baking," Farrior said. He jokingly described Foote as "a loudmouth from Detroit. No one could out-talk him. He talked all day, every day." But Farrior quickly added, "Everyone knows he has a big heart, a heart of gold."

Foote was at a Christian conference in California late last week and wasn't available for comment. It's unclear if he will try to play a 13th NFL season with another team. He missed all of last season after an injury -- a torn biceps -- in the opening game. He wanted to play here another season, but the Steelers put an end to those plans. It was a football decision. They cut Foote because they don't think he still can play. It wasn't a salary-cap issue.

"I think another team will take him," Farrior said. "He's still got it. The stuff he brings to the locker room is worth it. But going to another team? Learning a new system? Playing with a new bunch of guys? That's like being a rookie again. That's rough at this stage of his career."

Not that Foote couldn't adjust or fit in with a new team.