Kenny Pickett Praises Leadership In The Building: ‘It’s Just A Great Place To Work’

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett had an idea of what life could be like as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, setting up shop across the hall on the other side of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex as the quarterbacks for the Pitt Panthers the last five years. However, after officially being drafted in the first round by the Steelers this spring and being immersed in the culture and day-to-day activities on the opposite side of the building, Pickett clearly recognizes the leadership model the team has from the top down.

Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show as a guest on Tuesday, McAfee specifically asked Pickett about the importance of leadership as it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers. When asked if any of the older Steelers players on the team or of years past that are now alumni of the team have reached out to him and his thoughts on the organization as a whole, Pickett had a list of names ready to go.

“You can see why they’ve had success over the years,” Pickett said in an interview with retired NFL punter and media personality Pat McAfee on The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday. “Just really, it starts from the top down with Kevin [Colbert] and Coach Tomlin and how they run the building and it trickles down from there. But you know, I’m next to Cam Hayward, and Connor Hayward, his younger brother’s next to him. So, we’re kind of in that little corner. I’ve talked to Ryan Shazier. Cam Sutton’s been awesome. Obviously, T.J. [Watt] and Minkah Fitzpatrick. I’m listening to all these guys.”

Whoever decided to put Pickett’s locker right next to Cam Heyward’s, you are a wise, wise man. Heyward now stands to be the elder statesman of the team now that Ben Roethlisberger has retired, likely being the vocal leader many on the team will turn to for a sense of direction. Putting Pickett both figuratively and literally in Cam’s corner cannot be understated as a potential means of mentorship, much like how Mike Tomlin went about having Cam mentor Najee Harris. The way Tomlin sees it, Ben was able to mentor Cam for the role he has now on the team, and now Cam can do the same for both Najee and Pickett to hopefully become the team leaders of the future.

Pickett speaking with Shazier who has been such an active presence with the team after his dreadful spinal injury abruptly ended his NFL career also is a great thing to hear, as Shazier has invaluable wisdom and insight to share. T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick are obvious names as Pickett mentioned that stick out as leadership models, being that both players mentioned that they wanted to take up a greater leadership role on the team this offseason. However, some Steelers fans may not realize the role Cam Sutton has on the team as a vocal, energetic personality that can brighten up the room with how he carries himself. Now heading into his sixth season with the Steelers, Sutton is another guy that know how things role.

When it comes to how players and staff treat each other in the building, Pickett reiterated the often brought up topic of how Steelers create a family atmosphere you want to be a part of.

“When you walk in that building, they kind of just treat you like you should be treated as a teammate and they’re always looking to help out and you can see why they’ve had so much success over the years. So, it’s just a great place to work. And every time I walk in there, I’m excited to be there. And you could tell everyone’s excited to get to work and they want to be there. They don’t have to be there. I think there’s a huge difference in that. So, everything feels the way it should be. I feel like I’m in an NFL team, and I’m excited to be a part of it and kind of help chase more greatness for us.”

You don’t want to have your future franchise quarterback dreading to go to work every day. For a lot of teams that select a quarterback high in the draft that don’t have a stable foundation around them in terms of coach influence, player leadership, or support from the owner, this can often become the case as the pressures of producing at the highest level in sports fall a young signal caller’s shoulders. So far for Pickett, this can be farther from truth when it comes to Pittsburgh. A team of stability, tradition, and commitment to winning over decades is the perfect place for a young quarterback to be brought in and raised right to try and succeed at the NFL level.

As Tomlin often says, “The standard is the standard.” Pickett in his short time being in the opposite wing of the building that he has called home the last five years has quickly recognized that and has seemed to run with it. The standard is Super Bowl Championships for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kenny Pickett appears amped up and ready to do his part in attempt to add to that trophy case rich with the history and leadership of all those who have come before him.

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