by Aubrey Bruce, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Instead of waking up to view and analyze film from their recent 30-28 preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or getting back onto the practice field, the Pittsburgh Steelers were awakened by some unsettling, unexpected and devastating news. The Steelers’ wide receivers coach, Darryl Drake, died this past Sunday at the age of 62. Coach Drake was entering his second year with the Steelers.
Steelers president Art Rooney issued the following statement. “We are at a loss for words following Darryl Drake’s passing this morning, Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career. He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football.”
Drake began his NFL coaching career as the receivers coach with the Chicago Bears in 2004. He remained with the Bears until 2012 at which time he departed to coach the receivers for Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals. Arians was also the former offensive coordinator of the Steelers.
The Bears posted this on Twitter: “Today we mourn the untimely passing of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake. Darryl was the former Bears wide receivers coach under Lovie Smith from 2004-12, including the (Bears) 2006 Super Bowl appearance.”
Arians tweeted: “We lost a great man, husband, father, coach and a dear friend Darryl Drake. Our prayers go out to his family. RIP brother.”
Arians’ former team, the Arizona Cardinals, posted this: “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Darryl Drake. It is impossible to overstate his impact on the game in nearly four decades as a coach in college and the NFL. Today, the entire football community mourns his loss.”
With an abundance of young, talented wide receivers at his disposal coupled with the departure of the Steelers’ talented yet troubled wide receiver, Antonio Brown, now with the Oakland Raiders it appeared that Coach Drake and his receivers were poised to have a breakout year as part of a talented Pittsburgh Steelers offense. When I, like Coach Drake and many other writers and fans were forced to sit through and endure the 2018 narcissistic-based shenanigans and dumbness from the ungrateful NFL megatalent Brown, it had to be tricky during the past season for Coach Drake to coach or even communicate with an individual such as Brown. This is a person that is seemingly incapable of seeing any image or caring about anyone but himself.
At this point it’s difficult, no, almost impossible, from preventing my cauldron of anger from spilling over onto these pages. I dare not write what I really feel because more than 50 percent of the text would have to be redacted. While Antonio Brown was using his own supply of hot air to again treat us all to his version of grandeur and pomposity, making a sullied and self-centered, attention-grabbing entrance into Oakland Raiders training camp, or should I say in Brown’s case, “complaining camp,” while unbeknownst to all of us coach Darryl Drake was nearing the end of his earthly journey.
At the time that this column was written, I did not see or hear about any reaction from Antonio Brown. And with the trouble that he probably gave Coach Drake, especially about not having his share of passes tossed his way, any words that Antonio Brown would offer, I caution you to take with a grain of salt.
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