New assistant GM Andy Weidl spoke to the media for the first time since joining the Steelers after Omar Khan was promoted to the GM role. Weidl came over from the Philadelphia Eagles, where he held the title Vice President of Player Personnel, to return to where his scouting career began with the Steelers as an intern for 1998-1999. Born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, the opportunity to re-join the Steelers as second in command to Khan in the front office presented Weidl with an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
When speaking to the media in a press conference, Weidl hit on his return to Pittsburgh as well as his previous experiences in Philadelphia and in Baltimore, where he worked with the Ravens for nearly a decade. Weidl was asked about if his experiences in Pittsburgh as an intern impacted him when he took on a larger role in organizations. Weidl acknowledged his first experience with the Steelers did impact his perception of scouting, causing him to look for resilient leaders that you wanted to represent what you stood for as an organization.
“You saw a veteran like Dermontti Dawson, and you saw a veteran Jerome Bettis, a young Hines Ward and man, those guys are tough, resilient,” Weidl said to the media on video via Steelers.com. “You couldn’t break those guys. Joey Porter. Aaron Smith. I was there their first two years and watching those guys grow in the league, looking back how they acted and handled themselves. Like I always thoughts back to that, and those guys are some ultimate warriors, best warriors this league’s seen.”
Weidl had the opportunity to see some Steelers’ greats back in action during his first stint with the team from 1998-1999, watching Dawson as he entered the tail end of his NFL career while also getting to see a guy like Bettis and how he carried himself both on and off the field. Weidl also mentioned Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, and Joey Porter who were just starting their respective careers in Pittsburgh, ultimately joining with Bettis to form the bedrock foundation of the 2005 team that would go on to win Super Bowl XL.
Weidl mentioned that all those players carried themselves in such a way that emulated what the city of Pittsburgh is: a tough, resilient football team that played with the heart of a warrior and a “never say die” mindset. This mindset is exactly what Weidl points to when followed up by the question that was posed to him regarding an intangible trait he looks for in players based on his previous stops with different organizations.
“Well, it’s, it’s a commonality,” Weidl said on the topic of finding an intangible trait. “I saw it with the Ravens. I saw it with the Steelers here. With the guys here at Philadelphia, we had the same thing. We had guys that were tough minded, strong willed. You couldn’t break them. They just showed up every day and they’re resilient. And that’s something you look for in the DNA of a player. It’s something I believe, and I learned here at an early age from Mr. Nunn and from the Steelers organization. And it’s carried me through.”
Alex Kozora hit on this scouting philosophy of Weidl shortly after he joined the Steelers, stating that “tough, smart, thick-skinned, and mentally strong” are the words he’s used to describe players who fit his culture. This culture was instilled in him back when he started with Pittsburgh as an intern under the guidance of HOF scout Bill Nunn, who taught Weidl to look for how a player responds to adverse circumstances.
The players that Weidl was around back in his first stint with Pittsburgh demonstrated that mental toughness to a tee, overcoming the odds as a Wild Card team that went on to win three straight road games and the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks.
The team he helped put together in Baltimore did the same thing, overcoming adverse circumstances in their playoff run which included the power going out in the Superdome in New Orleans to hold off a comeback attempt by the 49ers to win Super Bowl XLVII. The Philadelphia Eagles team he was a part of showcased that same mental toughness as they battled on after QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL, rolling with Nick Foles, who helped them win a back-and-forth battle against the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Andy Weidl has seen his fair share of winning at the highest level in professional football. He knows what the DNA of a championship team is supposed to be, having a roster full of resilient men who can weather the storms and overcome that adversity thanks to their mental fortitude. He now looks to apply that same philosophy here in Pittsburgh, who already has guys like T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward who meet that criteria. If he and Khan continue to follow this model in their team building process, one can hope that this Pittsburgh Steelers team can soon enjoy the success like the other teams Weidl has had a hand in constructing during his career.