Buy Or Sell: Hiring Former Players Like Cotchery To Coach Is A Bad Idea

The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.

That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.

Topic Statement: Hiring another former player like Jerricho Cotchery to join the coaching staff is a bad idea.

Explanation: Head coach Mike Tomlin has not been shy about hiring former Steelers players to coach under him. William Gay and David Johnson served as coaching interns last year. Jerry Olsavsky remains the inside linebackers coach. Joey Porter and Carnell Lake have both been on the staff. The results have been mixed.


Porter’s track record was highly suspect, and Bud Dupree had his best season after he was let go. Lake isn’t exactly the most popular coaching hire in team history, either. Speaking specifically to this situation, this is a young wide receiver group that needs a strong leader, and Cotchery hasn’t even been a wide receiver’s coach before. This is nearly equivalent to promoting Gay to the job. Get a more experienced person.

A player like James Washington needs hard coaching from somebody with a history of being able to train the fundamentals. Cotchery only has three years of coaching experience as an assistant. We didn’t see great results last season from the internal promotion of Shaun Sarrett.


Hiring a former player is neither an inherent positive or negative and depends entirely upon the unique situation. Provided that the individual is qualified as a coach, that’s all that matters. There are plenty of examples of former players becoming great coaches with their former teams. Tony Dungy got his start coaching for the Steelers shortly after his playing career. Mike Munchak did it with the Oilers.

Cotchery, again going back to the specific example at hand, in his playing days was the sort of player whom you might think would become a coach. He was signed to be a veteran presence after Hines Ward retired, and he ably filled those shoes in Pittsburgh, then did it with Carolina, so well in fact that Ron Rivera hired him as a coach. He can do the job, and he already knows a lot of the staff. As long as he’s qualified, there’s nothing wrong with the hire.

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