As if you need another reminder of how old you/we are getting, a former Pittsburgh Steelers’ player is back in the NFL. This time, as a coach. The Indianapolis Colts are reportedly hiring ex-Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell as an assistant secondary coach per a tweet-port from The Athletic’s Stephen Holder.
Mitchell originally a 2nd round pick of the then-Oakland Raiders in the 2009 NFL Draft, considered to be a surprise and reach pick at the time. But he showed his staying power, spending ten years in the NFL. His first four came with the Raiders, the fifth with the Panthers before the Steelers signed him for the 2014 season. He started in Pittsburgh for four years, 61 total games, recording 281 tackles and four interceptions. He was best known for his hard-hitting ability. His final year in the NFL was spent with the Indianapolis Colts, the team he’s now coaching with.
As he became a veteran, Mitchell was regarded as a mentor and leader. He took several young guys under his wing in Pittsburgh, working with names like Sean Davis as they were brought in by the organization. Mitchell did the same in his one year with Indianapolis and clearly left a positive impression on the likes of owner Jim Irsay.
Though not everyone can coach as well as they’ve played, the Steelers are no strangers to having former players circle back as coaches. Hines Ward served as an intern for a year while Alan Faneca briefly spent time with the team. Joey Porter spent several years as the Steelers’ outside linebackers coach after dominating on the field for the team throughout the 2000s. Even more famously, Joe Greene served as the team’s d-line coach for five years across the late 80s and early 90s.
Of the Steelers’ current coaching staff, several coaches have extensive experience as NFL players: WRs Coach Frisman Jackson, TEs Coach Alfredo Roberts, DL Coach Karl Dunbar, ILBs Coach Jerry Olsavsky, and Director of Player Development Darrel Young.
Those coaches bring a unique perspective and ability to connect with their players, guys who saw the game through the same lens of the players they are now coaching.