A guy almost no Pittsburgh Steelers fan ever heard of before today got the fan base all in a tizzy earlier this morning when Michael Stone, co-host of the Stoney and Jansen show on 97.1 The Ticket based in Detroit, reported that the Detroit Lions were in the process of poaching away Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.
Colbert has been with the Steelers for the past two decades, but had been brought in from the Lions prior to that, so there was a connection there, and the Lions do have an opening. Colbert has previously said that he is taking his future on a year-to-year basis.
This was not dissimilar to the situation with Dick LeBeau at the end of his tenure, and when he was let go, he did not retire, but rather continued on coaching for a couple more years with the Tennessee Titans. Some people find it hard to retire, after all.
The information, of course, has subsequently been shot to hell, and Stone earlier this morning recanted his original report. “Obviously my information has been debunked”, he wrote on Twitter. “This does not mean there isn’t or wasn’t back channel things going on. This is a reputable football person, not a limo driver, lawyer or chef. It appears he is wrong and that is on me”.
Obviously my information has been debunked. This does not mean there isn’t or wasn’t back channel things going on. This is a reputable football person, not a limo driver,lawyer or chef. It appears he is wrong and that is on me.
— michael stone (@stoney16) January 13, 2021
Following the initial report from Stone, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that not only had Colbert not spoken to the Lions about a possible opening, the Steelers had not even received a request from Detroit to speak to him. They must get approval from the organization before speaking with an employee of another team.
Shortly thereafter, head coach Mike Tomlin held his post-season press conference, and also addressed the rumors, largely stating simply that he was not familiar with them at all and reiterating that the two have an awesome working relationship, and are in communication throughout the day every day.
Colbert is currently under contract with the Steelers through the 2021 NFL Draft, but it remains to be seen if he will sign another extension in short order. He is approaching his mid-60s now after having spent more than three and a half decades in the business.
The Steelers have had tremendous success under Colbert’ winning two Super Bowl and appearing in three. They have drafted numerous players under him who have already been voted into the Hall of Fame, such as Troy Polamalu, or who will inevitably wind up there, such as Ben Roethlisberger.