One of the biggest mysteries for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers is the question of Stephon Tuitt, and whether the veteran defensive lineman will ever play football again—or at least this season. He missed all of the 2021 season, nominally because he was on the Reserve/Injured List due to a knee injury that required an early September procedure, but ultimately involved more than that.
Over the course of the past month, general manager Kevin Colbert and teammate (and close friend) Cameron Heyward have both expressed optimism about Tuitt’s potential return. Colbert even said that Tuitt has expressed excitement about returning.
According to Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, Tuitt has, indeed, been around in the team facility. In an article from Wednesday, he writes that he has been present in the building this past month, though he doesn’t get more specific than that. Still, the fact that he’s been in the building, I think, is a pretty big deal. (A note, just in case there is any confusion: the header image is just a stock photo from 2017 from the team facility, not recent).
That’s the new information there. As far as we had previously known, Tuitt had not been around the team at all for months, even into last season. Early on, he was still on the sidelines despite being on the Reserve/Injured List, but at some point in the middle of the season, it seems, he wasn’t even around anymore.
As you well know, Tuitt’s family suffered a devastating loss a year ago. His younger brother was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while his family was helping him move in order to start a new career. He was struck on the side of the road while their family caravan was legally pulled over and all vehicles had their hazard lights on.
The family to this day still has not had justice, as the driver of the vehicle that killed him has never been identified. The fatal incident took place on June 2 in Georgia; Tuitt was not personally there at that time.
Tuitt was subsequently excused from mandatory minicamp held shortly after that (no excuse is required for missing voluntary OTAs). He was present, but working off to the side, during training camp, before a knee issue ultimately sidelined him.
Stan Savran previously said in mid-September that at that time, he had spoken to Tuitt, who was optimistic and excited about playing in 2021, and that he expected to be back within the next several weeks from that point.
We don’t really know anything about what transpired behind the scenes, but we can reasonably conjecture that he at some point over the course of the season could have returned to a level of health that otherwise would have allowed him to play had his circumstances been less complicated.
The Steelers organization has been consistently empathetic with what his family has gone through and has given him quite a wide berth over the course of the past 10 months. I would imagine, though, that they would like to get clarity before the 2022 NFL Draft next month.