Kevin Colbert knows almost as well as anyone what kind of scout, and more importantly, what kind of person, Bill Nunn was. Days after Nunn’s overdue induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Colbert joined Randy Baumann on the DVE morning show to share his memories of Nunn on the scouting trail and then inside the Pittsburgh Steelers’ building.
Colbert says he know of Nunn and then got to know him long before Pittsburgh hired him.
“I first knew of Bill growing up in Pittsburgh and knowing some of [the Steelers] personnel folks just through different connections that we had at North Catholic High School through the Rooney family,” Colbert told the show.” We got to visit training camps when we were younger and growing in the business. And Bill was obviously noticeable at that point.”
Colbert was an outside hire when Pittsburgh took a chance on him in 2000 but he’s a Steel City lifer. Colbert was born in the city, attending North Catholic High School and then Robert Morris University. He grew up during the heyday of the Steelers’ 70s dynasty, a roster put together in part because of Nunn’s scouting and inside information of HBCUs.
Colbert climbed the football ladder and got to know Nunn on the scouting trail along the way.
“Before I got to Pittsburgh, I often spent time with bill on the road. And you know, just his knowledge about what this business was about and how he went about it. Not always just in a talking phase to people like myself but just watching him work.”
Colbert spent one year as a scout for BLESTO, the national scouting agency the Steelers are apart of. That’s what the “S” in BLESTO (Bears-Lions-Eagles-Steelers-Talent-Organization) stands for. Miami hired him as an area scout in 1985 before Detroit tabbed him as its Pro Scouting Director for all of the 90s. Scouting is a tireless, often lonely journey, so scouts, even from other teams, can become fast friends.
Pittsburgh hired Colbert to run the team in 2000, allowing him to get to know Nunn on an even more personal basis.
“And then of course, when he was with us on a day-to-day basis, when we were in the same office, it was just a lesson again. Just to be around him and hear the so many different stories. But then the actual contributions that he made to our evaluation process were just priceless.”
Nunn and Colbert worked together up until Nunn’s death in 2014. Though he unofficially retired back in 1987, Nunn still worked for the team on a part-time basis as a scout and mentor to those in full-time roles. Many of those still in the Steelers’ scouting department today worked with Nunn, meaning those values are still reflected in Pittsburgh’s draft classes.