September 7, 2014, this is the first page of a new chapter about to be written in the history book we know as the Pittsburgh Steelers. Foregoing all of the pre game pomp, pageantry and post game circumstances there is something else that has, is and will continue to transpire long after the 2014 NFL Championship has been decided and this year’s Lombardi trophy is resting comfortably in a trophy case designated by one of the thirty two NFL franchises.
In the midst of the “bubbly” flowing after a championship, the talent scouts and general managers of all NFL teams must continue on their relentless quest for flesh, scouring the football universe for athletes to fill the needs of their franchise, while simultaneously diluting the talent pool for the competition. However, being a GM is sort of like being an offensive or defensive lineman. Credit for great talent selections may sometimes be more grudgingly given than the free flowing criticism displayed for poor draft choices or free agent acquisitions.
One of the men who moves players back and forth across the NFL chessboard without much fanfare is the Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager, Kevin Colbert. Colbert has never been one to really seek the spotlight. He seems to be the exact opposite of the typical pro sports attention seeker, But make no mistake about it. Kevin Colbert has been one of the critical components in the Steelers drafting success for over a decade.
Although Colbert is “homegrown” he took a different path to ascend to the position of general manager before returning back to his hometown to become one “princes” in the “court” of the Steelers nation. “In the beginning I really had no association with the Steelers,” Colbert says. “I started with BLESTO under Jack Butler back in 1984.” BLESTO is otherwise known as; Bears Lions Eagles Steelers Talent Organization. “From BLESTO I went to the Miami Dolphins for five years. Then with the Detroit Lions for ten years. I ended up [joining] the Steelers in the year 2000.
They sought me out because they had an opening after Tom Donahoe left. I really had never met Mr. [Dan] Rooney or Art [Rooney II]. The Lions allowed me to interview from Detroit and I ended up getting hired.”
Colbert also reflected on when he first met Bill Nunn Jr. As history would have it, he met Nunn Jr. before he met the Rooney family. “I first met Bill when I was working for BLESTO. When you work for BLESTO you report to the teams and one of the teams that I reported to was the Steelers. My first recollection of actually spending time with him was on a visit when I was with the Dolphins and he was with the Steelers. We spent a day together at Boston College. It was really a neat experience to be with a guy like Bill, a guy I had heard so much about. That’s really where the learning process first started. When I came to the Steelers in 2000, Bill had already been retired, but again we had known each other throughout the years. He was a great resource for me coming into the organization. I probably knew him as well if not better that anybody in other organizations. He was very helpful and he continued to be, right up until the end when he suffered a stroke.”
Since Kevin Colbert became the GM or as the Steelers prefer to call their chief talent evaluator, Director of Football Operations, since the year 2000 the Steelers have competed in three Super Bowls and have brought home a pair of Lombardi Trophies but Colbert is far from one who gets an adrenalin rush from past achievements. “We’ve had our share of success since 2000 but those are things that you don’t reflect upon until it’s all over someday. Right now our focus is 2014 because the last two seasons haven’t been where we need them to be. Hopefully we’ve learned from those and made the proper additions so we can get and keep this team focused for 2014. Colbert also said how he would like to be remembered. “The only thing that I can hope for is when it’s all said and done that I have made positive contributions to the organization. When I came here we had four [Lombardi] trophies now we have six. I can always look back and say we were a part of that but the essence of that just means that seven is now attainable.” Some say that power shared is power lost. I don’t quite believe that is the case when it comes to Kevin Colbert, checkmate.
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: email@example.com or 412.583.6741
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