The Forgotten Factor Of The Steelers Next GM Hire

For the first time since 2000, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a new face running the team. Kevin Colbert’s tenure as Steelers’ GM is almost unheard of in any sport, the quiet star of the show for 22 years. He’s moving on with life’s work, and the team is in the midst of finding his replacement, with a name likely announced by the end of the month.

Naturally, all the conversation centers around who the next GM will be. Will it be an internal candidate like Brandon Hunt or Omar Khan? Will it be a first-time GM from the outside like the Eagles’ Andy Weidl? Or an ex-GM with strong ties to the team like Doug Whaley?

Those are the most crucial questions. But there’s another aspect to consider. The scouting staff. The engine that makes the whole organization go, these are the guys working year-round to scout the current class or, as they’re about to do now, get a jump on next year’s group of guys.

If you thought the Steelers’ continuity at GM or HC was impressive, their scouting staff is a downright unicorn. It’s as stable and consistent of a group as you’ll see in any sport. Excluding recent and current interns, the least-tenured member of the team’s scouting staff, Rick Reiprish, has been there eight years. And he’s been in football for decades.

Here’s the list of the Steelers’ core scouting staff and how long each have been with the team through the 2022 season. So the years signify what year they’re entering.

Dan Rooney Jr, Player Personnel Director – 28 years
Brandon Hunt, Pro Scouting Coordinator – 13 years
Phil Kriedler, College Scouting Coordinator – 32 years
Rick Reiprish, Senior Assistant – 8 years
Mark Bruener, College Scout – 13 years
Mike Butler, College Scout – 10 years
Dan Colbert, College Scout – 12 years
Kelvin Fisher, Scout – 18 years (with team from 2000 to 2012 before being rehired several years ago)
Mark Gorscak, College Scout – 28 years
Chidi Iwuoma, College Scout – 10 years
Bruce McNorton, College Scout – 23 seasons
Dave Petett, Pro/College Scout – 19 seasons

That’s a combined 214 years of experience, all with the Steelers. If you went back in time as many years as Pittsburgh’s scouting staff, you’d land in 1808 when Napoleon conquered Spain. And Pittsburgh probably scouted him, too.

Most of the above names have been with Pittsburgh their entire professional careers or at the least, the vast majority of it. But with a new GM, especially if an outside comes in, the Steelers’ scouting staff could experience its first turnover in essentially decades. A new GM often brings his guys in and doesn’t have the close ties to the current group like Colbert has.

And frankly, a new GM may open the door for Steelers’ scouts to pursue other jobs. As we wrote in 2021, the Steelers’ staff is so consistent not just because they love being in Pittsburgh, but because teams were hesitant to approach those guys, assuming they just wanted to stay where they were at. Last year for Inside The League, here’s what Doug Whaley (now interviewing for the GM job) speculated:

“Everybody (in the league) believes none of them will leave, so no one gets approached… I talked to some of the scouts and was like, ‘what is it out there in the league that people don’t come and ask us?’ No one knocks on the door.”

With a new GM and expected front office shuffling, maybe other teams finally come calling. Hunt is already in demand with three external interviews this offseason.

If so, it would be another philosophical shift within the organization and make their process and picks significantly more unpredictable. The “Blue’s Clues” we’ve been able to point out would have to be re-evaluated. Longtime and key faces are leaving the team all at once. Ben Roethlisberger, Kevin Colbert, Keith Butler, even VP President of Finance/Chief Financial Officer Bob Tyler are all retiring. But should a shakeup of the scouting staff occur, it could be the most consequential of them all. And it’ll be the most overlooked storyline of the summer.

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