The Pittsburgh Steelers work as a unit. They come together on their draft decisions. And most of their plans are already laid out before Thursday night, following the board put together earlier in the week. But Mike Tomlin knows there’s still one man in charge.
Via the team’s YouTube channel, he gave a very succinct answer when asked how the final decision making is made when it comes time for the Steelers to make their pick.
“Mr. Rooney is the boss.”
A little tongue-in-cheek from Tomlin. But it’s also the truth. Rooney is the man who signs everyone’s checks. And he gets to oversee the entire process.
Tomlin expanded on the process a little bit more but came to the same conclusion.
“Kevin and I have worked so well and so long together that we can kind of communicate non-verbally in those moments. But at the end of the day, Art Rooney’s the boss.”
Rooney doesn’t have the reputation of overriding the front office or meddling the way a Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder might. But there have been times in the Steelers’ history where the owner got the guy he wanted. 2004 is a great example. Bill Cowher reportedly wanted to draft OL Shawn Andrews. But Dan Rooney steered them to quarterback and selecting Ben Roethlisberger. Thank goodness for that.
Colbert specified what Rooney’s input in the process looks like.
“We always say this. Whenever we make a pick, it’s a Pittsburgh Steelers pick. We just finished three weeks of intense meetings where scouts, assistant coaches, coordinators, head coaches, GMs. We all had our chance to have our input. But when we put a grade on a player, it’s not coaches’ grade it’s not my grade, it’s our grade. When we select that player, it will be done as what’s best for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“And of course Art will be involved because he is the owner and he knows every step of the process. He sits in on meetings when he can, he gives us input when he can and when he wants to. And of course we’re going to follow those leads, but I think he trusts us as well to present the information that we’ve spent not only the last 11 months, but these last three weeks of really trying to tie it all together and formulate an evaluation and formulate a pick that’s for the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Side not. Tomlin calls him “Mr. Rooney.” Colbert calls him “Art.”
But everything Colbert said is consistent with what he’s stated over the years. The Steelers have the most consistent and tight-knit front office. The same family has owned the team since 1933. The GM has been there since 2000, the head coach in place since 2007. Almost every member of the Steelers’ scouting staff has been with the team for at least five years and their College Scouting Director has been there since the 90s. Their process is as fleshed out as anyone’s because of that consistency they’ve built over the last half-century.