As we have done for several years to bide our time during the offseason, we’re looking back on Pittsburgh Steelers you may have forgotten…or not remembered at all in the first place. Our “blast from the past” series, with a new, dumb name, highlighting players who have long hung up their cleats.
If you have a player you’d like to see profiled, leave it in the comments below.
Isaac Redman/RB (2009-2013)
Suddenness and glide. That’s Isaac Redman. At least, that was the joke anyway.
Though he was never a star, and rarely even a starter, he carved out a niche role in the Steelers’ backfield. Part of that was the opportunity of the moment. Jerome Bettis had long been retired. Pittsburgh ran Willie Parker’s wheels off. And somebody had to back up Rashard Mendenhall.
The fact Redman even saw a carry, let alone the 282 he would end his career with, on a football field is a minor miracle in itself. No one knew who he was, a UDFA out of Bowie State, a school that might as well be in Kansas, or Maine, or Oregon if you polled 100 people (it’s in Maryland, by the way).
The few thousand students who attended there sure knew who he was though. There, he ran for more than 3300 career yards, rewriting the school’s record books in practically every category. If you’re really jonesing for some football, here’s a snippet of some of his college highlights.
He turned heads by standing out in the team’s first goal line drill in 2009, converting both his chances into touchdowns. From the Post-Gazette, who recapped the event.
“No one had a better goal-line drill than Isaac Redman, a little-known back from little-known Bowie State in Maryland. Redman, an undrafted rookie, scored twice on his only two carries. He was running with the second team and against the second-team defense, but he looked good doing it.”
Those moments coupled with an equally impressive preseason earned him a spot on the team’s practice squad. He spent the first half of the season there until being called up in October for a game and then bounced on and off the roster, the rookie shuffle common for a player in his spot, throughout the year.
Showing power and determination, the Steelers kept him on their 53 man roster as a designated goal line/short-yardage back for 2010. It didn’t take long for him to log his first carry either. On the third play of the season, he powered his way to convert this 3rd and 1 with a three yard pickup.
Despite being the goal line “guy,” his first – nor his second – career touchdown would come on the ground. Both were through the air. The first came in a blowout win over Oakland. The second was much more memorable. Redman was famously on the receiving end of this Ben Roethlisberger touchdown in the waning moments to beat Baltimore, the game where Troy Polamalu hatcheted Joe Flacco’s arm to set up the score. But he flashed his power, breaking two tackles as he spun over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown.
As the story goes, Redman wasn’t supposed to be in the game. Running backs coach Kirby Wilson mistakenly put him on the field instead of Mewelde Moore. So that’s how your power back ends up slot left to win the game.
2011 would mark his best year in the league, carrying the ball 110 times for 4.4 yards a pop and three rushing scores. He followed that up with a similar 2012 campaign; another 110 carries but a worse average and one fewer score. That included a weird, 104 yard receiving game against the Tennessee Titans though in part due to a fluky 55 yard catch and run at the end of the first half, the first Steelers’ back to go over the century mark since 1970.
But after Kevin Colbert basically admitted they didn’t have enough talented backs on the roster, Redman included, the team drafted Le’Veon Bell in 2013. Redman, struggling to stay healthy, injuries always seemed to nag at him, even while doing his best to play hurt, and he saw just 10 carries that year. In October 2013, the team cut him in order to bring up LB Kion Wilson to the 53.
Though he said he received offers from teams to keep playing, a diagnosis from the same doctors who evaluated Peyton Manning said Redman suffered a spinal cord injury. The risk wasn’t worth taking and he announced his retirement in 2014.
But his football days weren’t over. Two years later, he picked up a coaching intern spot with the Arizona Cardinals. After that, and still to this day, he serves as the head football coach for the 7th and 8th grade teams back home in New Jersey. They evidently ran the popular “Philly Special” to success last season.
He spoke to the Courier Post about his passion for coaching and giving back to the community.
“We combined Paulsboro and Gibbstown kids last year in the spring and I had to miss the championship game because Arizona wanted me to come out early and I couldn’t tell them to hold on to coach a 7th- and 8th-grade championship even though I wanted to. I was away from them all summer, I’m on FaceTime every practice and looking on Facebook Live for scrimmages, I mean my heart was in Paulsboro. I appreciated the opportunity and the time but my heart was home. I couldn’t wait to get back and coach my own kids.”
In February, he was one of 13 people inducted into the Gloucester County Hall of Fame.
Isaac Redman, your blast from the past.