While there have been no formal reports, there have been indications that Pittsburgh Steelers longtime general manager Kevin Colbert may be retiring after more than two decades with the team. It has already been a couple of years now since he said that he would be taking his future one year at a time, so it certainly would not be an upset if it actually came to pass.
That would be a major change for head coach Mike Tomlin, who has never known another general manager in Pittsburgh—just like he’s going to have to learn life with the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback. He hasn’t acknowledged any reports about Colbert moving on, but he did comment on his role in the head coach-general manager dynamic, regardless of who is there.
“Man, I could talk all day about our relationship and how it’s been beneficial to me”, he said last week during his year-end press conference, commenting on his history with Colbert on a personal level. “It’s been a pleasure. In terms of what I’m open to and things of that nature, hypothetically speaking, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it”.
Tomlin and Colbert have made numerous comments about their bromance over the years; their offseason escapades on the road to various colleges during the pre-draft process could be fodder for a buddy movie. Obviously, bringing in somebody new is going to establish a new relationship. But he plays a critical role in how that goes.
“Just in general, my attitude is one that I own the responsibility of being an easy person to work with”, Tomlin said. “And so, I’m not concerned about hypotheticals in that regard. I make myself an easy person to work with because I don’t have side agendas, the Pittsburgh Steelers agenda is the agenda”.
His public comments jive with common remarks in the past, often remarking that it doesn’t matter where a good idea comes from. He always maintains that anybody is open to contribute to their success as long as their contributions lead in that direction.
In short order, he could be looking at a new defensive coordinator, a new quarterback, and a new general manager. He already has a relatively new offensive coordinator, not to mention a nearly entirely new offensive line.
This is certainly a much different team than the one he first walked into in 2007. In fact, with Roethlisberger retiring, it now finally consists solely of players he brought in at one time or another. The coaching staff will now also entirely be his with Keith Butler retiring.
While it’s never been the case that he played with somebody else’s team, as his detractors like to say, it is also the case that this has never been more his team than it is now and will be moving forward. He’s never led a search for a true franchise quarterback. He’s never gone through the general manager process. Frankly, he’s only once brought in an offensive or defensive coordinator from the outside, even.