One of the best wide receivers coaches ever is finally calling it a career. Though he indicated it before the season began, Sporting News Alex Marvez reports Richard Mann is officially going to retire.
“A source told Sporting News that Richard Mann is retiring as Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach.”
Mann was brought back to coaching by Mike Tomlin in 2013. Mann, 70, has coached football since 1970, starting locally at Aliquippa High School just outside of Pittsburgh. He spent the bulk of his time with the Cleveland Browns, there from 1985 to 1993, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, from 2002 to 2009, before joining the Steelers. Of course, he and Tomlin worked together in Tampa.
At today’s press conference, Tomlin said he had not yet talked to Mann about his coaching future. But he heaped praise on him not only for what he’s done as a coach
“Oh man, we’ve covered a lot of ground together. First world championship I was apart of, I was the secondary coach, he was the wideout coach. So obviously, there’s a cooperative workspace there. I was a young assistant, he was a seasoned assistant. It’s been a pleasure to work with that guy. On a lot of fronts. Professionally, personally.”
Tomlin also took the time to recognize what Mann did for creating opportunities for other African American coaches.
“I also realize that efforts from guys like him have provided opportunities for guys like me. When he was coming up, I’m sure carving out a niche for himself in this business, maybe opportunities like the ones I have weren’t afforded to African American coaches. I’m appreciative of guys like Richard Mann on a lot of levels. Not only in terms of what he’s done and what he’s capable of doing, but maybe some of the hurdle he overcame provided opportunities for guys like me.”
Mann did a terrific job in Pittsburgh. He helped take Antonio Brown’s game to the next level. He developed Martavis Bryant into a dynamic player after coming out of college as an incredibly raw receiver. And JuJu Smith-Schuster rewrote the rookie record books with his steady, stellar play.
When I’ve talked to receivers in the past, all heaped praise on Mann, even guys who had only been around him for a couple weeks. Here’s what Shakim Phillips told me back in 2015.
“In a couple weeks I’ve learned so much from Coach Mann. He’s definitely one of my favorite coaches I’ve had through my whole life. He’s an old-school guy and he has a lot of knowledge about the game. He’s very big on technique and he’s helped me out a lot. I stay after with him, watch film, come early with him, watch film with him before and after practice. Just to pick his brain as much as I can.”
“But as minicamp came along he was out there on the field. I really like it. He’s already becoming one of my favorites coaches because he’s teaching me a lot in such a short amount of time.”
It’s uncertain who is going to replace Mann. Hines Ward was with the team in camp and throughout the regular season but has no other coaching experience. No matter who it charged to replace him, they’ll have giant shoes to fill.