The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a new general manager sometime within the next month or two. But that doesn’t mean their former general manager will be out of the building. Kevin Colbert has said that he is stepping down from the role of general manager; he has, however, very specifically avoided saying that he is actually leaving the game, a sentiment reiterated by owner Art Rooney II recently.
Appearing on SiriusXM Radio last week, when he was asked about the search for a new general manager, it was pointed out to him that Colbert would not say he was retiring. “Well, Kevin’s not using the retirement word, and so I’m certainly not gonna force that word on him”, Rooney responded.
I think it’s pretty clear at this point that Colbert is likely to stay on board in some capacity, perhaps just splitting up his title. Officially, he is ‘Vice President & General Manager’ on the team’s website. He could just be Vice President starting with the post-draft process while remaining in a reduced role.
It’s pretty much identical to the situation of Ozzie Newsome with the Baltimore Ravens, whose title is now Executive Vice President, with Eric DeCosta being given the title ‘Executive Vice President & General Manager’. Newsome was the Ravens’ first-ever general manager before stepping back a few years ago and allowing DeCosta to succeed him.
During the free agency and pre-draft process, whenever Colbert has been asked about his status, he has given answers basically saying that he doesn’t want to be a burden on the organization, but that as long as they would still be willing to have him on board as a contributor, he would like to be involved in some capacity.
So I think it’s pretty much a safe bet to assume that that’s going to happen at this point. Maybe it doesn’t, in the long run. Maybe after draft, Colbert decides that he does want to retire after all and leave the football chapter of his life behind.
But football lifers don’t let go easily. This is a guy who played football for North Catholic high school and very quickly got into scouting after graduating college. He’s been around not just football, but around Pittsburgh and around the Steelers, even if as just an outside observer, for basically his entire life.
It’s much easier to let go by transitioning. And especially if the Steelers end up promoting a general manager from within, I think it makes a lot of sense from an organizational transitional perspective if Colbert remains involved in an advisory capacity.
The ‘r’ word has been consciously avoided by all parties during this process, and I certainly don’t believe that is coincidental. I don’t know exactly what capacity he will have going forward, but I fully expect him to remain in people’s ears for at least another year or two, if not longer.