Not all great members of the Pittsburgh Steelers are great for a long period of time. Not all of them get the favor of having a harmonious departure with the team. But more often than not, before too long, they tend to find themselves back within the fold of the Steelers organization.
Perhaps, for many of them, either because of experiences that they had in other organizations or simply because of the detachment and time to reflect, they realize later on just what sort of familial community they were and remain a part of when they were chosen to join the Steelers organization.
We have seen this quite a bit over the years, both in terms of current players returning to the team after experiencing life elsewhere in the NFL, and in retired players who want to remain a part of the group they started with, or most identified, in the case of somebody like Charlie Batch.
Some of these players end up signing, or wanting to sign, one-day deals to retire with the Steelers. I’m not sure if Santonio Holmes ever formally retired, but he did say during the 2015 season that he “would like nothing more” than to be able to finish his career with the Steelers.
One wonders if he would have felt that way a few years earlier. With Holmes entering the final year of his rookie contract and facing a four-game suspension, the Steelers traded the then-troubled wide receiver for a fifth-round draft pick. That pick ultimately ended up yielding Antonio Brown, by the way.
While he may not have had the most ceremonious departure from the team, he did make his mark on Steelers history, as I’m sure virtually everybody who reads this site will know. He was integral in the team’s Super Bowl victory at the end of the 2008 season, making one of the all-time great catches in football history for the go-ahead score with barely half a minute remaining.
He was named the Super Bowl MVP for that, and had the best season of his career the following season, but then he was traded—not without good reason. Years later, however, he is once again a part of the brotherhood in Pittsburgh, and he recently spoke about what that means to him.
“It’s about a legacy”, he said regarding what it means to be a part of the Steelers organization and their lineage of players. “If you’re in Steeler Nation, everybody’s a legend around here. And you’re only a part of Steeler Nation because you want to be legendary”.
“As much information as you can pass on to continue that trend”, he continued, “that knowing the organization accepts you wholly; in that same manner, why not pay your respects?”
Holmes made these comments on the playing surface of Heinz Field while participating in the Steelers’ inaugural Family Day event, which in part gathers many members of the team’s past to interact with fans. It’s nice to see him reintegrated into the fabric of team history. Without him, we may still be looking for that “one for the other thumb”.