Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been described by many as the ultimate players’ coach. It’s just become a part of his personality and something that he has fully embraced since his arrival to the franchise in 2007. Over his tenure, he’s had the opportunity to lead hundreds of players, while getting the chance to establish long lasting relationships with plenty of former Steelers as well. On Thursday, he and the Steelers continued a tradition of inviting local alumni to practice for the final day of OTAs.
“It’s just so awesome,” said Tomlin via a story written by Steelers.com writer Teresa Varley. “I was telling our team today this is a small group, somebody that doesn’t want anything from them, just wants what is best for them. That fraternity, that fellowship, that brotherhood is something we value.”
Tomlin has always stressed the importance of developing the young men that enter the Steelers’ facilities. That is even more clear with welcoming the likes of Hall of Famer Mel Blount and former linebacker Ryan Shazier, who were just two of the 15 alumni in attendance. Others included: Larry Brown, Bryan Hinkle, Chris Hoke, Will Allen, Craig Bingham, Jon Kolb, Matt Kranchick, Louis Lipps, Derek Moye, Edmund Nelson, J.T. Thomas, Mike Tomczak, and Kraig Urbik.
The Steelers have gotten younger in the last couple of years, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. It is special for players in their early 20’s to get the the chance to speak and interact with Steelers legends. It’s especially beneficial if those players even pick up one or two tips on what it takes to be successful with one of the most historic franchises in NFL history. And of course, the alumni enjoy the experience just as much. The Steelers organization is so family-oriented that it’s hard for them to not be invested with the state of the franchise. Blount spoke to that point.
“I think it says a lot about Coach Tomlin’s leadership and understanding the history of the organization having the young guys see the retired players are still actively involved and concerned,” said Blount via Varley. “We want to see the organization continue to do well. When you have guys come in who had success in the organization on and off the field, it’s a good road map for these guys to follow.”
The Steelers have consistently shown love for former alumni with the Hall of Honor beginning in 2017 and now a Hall of Honor Museum that is set to open during the 2022 season. Forty-five former players, coaches and front office personnel have been inducted into the Hall of Honor, and that number will grow later this summer when the Steelers announce the 2022 class. The organization showing so much gratitude to all who have made it what it is today is just another example of why the Steelers organization is so well regarded within the NFL community.