There have been jokes for over a decade about the Pittsburgh Steelers having satellites in the NFL. It started with Ken Whisenhunt becoming the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, who would soon face Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl—and fortunately lose.
The Cardinals were Steelers West, or Pittsburgh West, bringing in a number of coaches and players who had ties to the team. Then a similar thing happened with the Tennessee Titans, with even Whisenhunt appearing there. Dick LeBeau was their defensive coordinator for a couple of years. Currently, Mike Vrabel is their head coach, but he is from the Bill Belichick coaching tree.
The Steelers also have satellites within the ownership, however. Two former minority owners now own their own teams, those being Jimmy and Dee Haslam, who purchased the Cleveland Browns in 2012. And David Tepper, who purchased the Carolina Panthers in 2018.
Both fired their head coaches. Tepper has already found his guy. And he looked toward his past (as a Pittsburgh native) for a vision of the future. In speaking about his new man, Matt Rhule, he invoked the memory of Chuck Noll.
“He built a program that has lasted through three coaches”, he told the team’s website about Noll helping to architect the 1970s dynasty team from what was really very few pre-existing pieces. “That’s what I hope Matt Rhule can do for us here. He’s a program builder”.
The Panthers are nothing like the Steelers team that Noll inherited, however, who were perennial losers. It’s not so long ago that Carolina was in the Super Bowl, and it’s not as though they tanked last season even without the services of Cam Newton, whose time may admittedly be coming to an end in Carolina.
“Matt is a very good people manager. And I think a good people manager is a good people manager, college or pro”, Tepper said of Rhule. “He’s going to set standards for people. We’re counting on people buying into those standards”.
Earlier, Tepper had claimed that he wanted to bring some of what he learned in Pittsburgh to the Panthers organization. Even this offseason, there had been some talk about his possibly wanting to try to poach some of the Steelers’ current front office personnel.
After originally professing a backseat approach, however, he also said upon the decision to relieve Ron Rivera of his duties that he felt it was the appropriate time to begin putting his stamp on the organization in seeking positive change.