Former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison has had an interesting history with the media. Throughout much, if not all of his playing career, he pretty much seemed to hate the media, outside of an occasional sitdown interview in which he got to speak his mind. Since his retirement, he has spent more time with a microphone in his face than he did during a typical season.
Presumably it’s something he’s come to enjoy, so in that sense he’s fortunate that there has been so much going on with his former employer that generates discussion, because it has given him plenty of opportunities to offer his voice as a result of that.
He didn’t have much of a voice in his final season with the Steelers, spending most of it in sweatpants, and he found his ways to demonstrate his displeasure on that front. Another member of the organization that he feels lacked a voice is defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
We have been getting droplets of anecdotes for over a year now I think about the idea that Butler has become only a figurehead, with Head Coach Mike Tomlin essentially being the real defensive coordinator. We haven’t ever received any substantiation for that—and you can certainly see Butler calling plays on the sideline during games, by the way—but Harrison seems to believe he didn’t get to run his defense as much as he ought to be able to.
“Why isn’t it” getting better, he asked of the defensive side of the ball while serving as a guest on Undisputed, echoing the question of his host. “That is his side of the ball, there’s no question about it. And he has a lot of say on that. So that’s the big thing. Everybody wants to jump on Butler”.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) January 15, 2019
“Tomlin’s got more of his hand into it, and like I said, Coach Butler, he’s a great coach, but at least from when I was there, he didn’t actually get the chance to coordinate and actually do the job. He had it in title”, Harrison said. Mike Tomlin’s hand is in a lot of that, and I think that’s why I believe you haven’t seen the change in the defensive side of the ball too much other than letting guys go”.
Butler has been under heavy fire, especially this past season, which ended on a major blunder in which he seemingly indicated that he wasn’t aware an opposing player had been on injured reserve for most of the season.
President Art Rooney II confirmed that the Steelers don’t plan on parting with any more coaches this offseason, so it’s safe to presume that Butler will be sticking around for another year. But what will his actual role be? We have gotten hints this year more than ever that his responsibilities could be marginalized.