One-on-one with Kevin Colbert

Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert has happily operated in the background the past six years, helping to rebuild a team that went 13-19 in the two seasons before he joined it in 2000.

His drafts and shrewd roster moves helped turn this team into one that has been to three AFC Championships in five seasons, winning this year to go to its first Super Bowl in 10 years.

We sat down with him at the Super Bowl to get his thoughts about the whole thing.


Does it mean anything to you or is it special for you to come back here to Detroit for the Super Bowl?
That part of it really hasn't happened. It's nice because of familiarity. But beyond that, there's really nothing that's more special other than the familiarity. I thought there would be, but there hasn't been.

Why do you think that is, because you've been back in Pittsburgh for so long?
Yeah. We've been in Pittsburgh now for six years. We had 10 good years here. We were very happy here. Coming to the Super Bowl, I'm just happy with any setting really. Again, the familiarity is nice because I've been able lend some assistance with the Silverdome and directions, stuff like that. But beyond that, no.

Bill (Cowher) mentioned yesterday and has several times in the past week that people in the organizaiton don't have an ego. Certain general managers in the league are guys who crave that spotlight. They have their own TV shows, they have their own radio shows. But you don't do that. Is that a conscious effort on your part?
I think if you go back, even when I was hired, I said the ownership, the head coach and the players should be the focus, especially during the season. You should have one voice and that should be the head coach during the season. So during the season, I think it's best that he stay in the forefront and I lend him support. In the offseason, it's a little different because he'll step back and let me do a little bit more of that type of stuff. Really, I have no problem with that because you have to have one philosophy and one voice. And I think that voice has to be the head coach.

Does it surprise you when you see general managers with their own TV and radio shows?
That's just the choice they decide to do. It doesn't affect me or bother me because I think we believe in what we're doing and we feel good about it. When I look around the league, you appreciate what you have in this organization. You feel fortunate to be a part of it.

Did you change or adjust anything in their drafting philosophy when you came here?
I think there were some things; organizationally we added some things. But you come in knowing that they've had success in the '70s and coach Cowher had them in the Super Bowl in 1995. So it wasn't like coming to a team that hadn't experienced any success. They had certain ways they wanted to do things, bu they wanted to add to it. There are some things we did organizationally that we may had added, but they had the foundation set.

Did you have to adjust your philosophy at all to fit into that?
A little bit. You have to understand. You've heard it before, "the Steeler way." You understand it, but it's a vague concept. You do things the right way with everything, dealing with the media, the players and the coaches on and off the field. You know what it is, it's the Steelers way. I don't think you can put finger on what it is.

This is pretty much your team now, though. You've been responsible in large part from bringing the majority of these guys in. You were a big part of this rebuilding process from those teams in 1998 and 1999. Do you take any personal pride in that?
Collectively we always say that whatever our record is at the end of a year is the end result of what players we have. It's my job and our job to help us find players to add to that, help us find players who fit and help us win games. Really, it's an expectation of what we're supposed to do. If it helps our team's success, great.

Did you put more of an emphasis on guys who like to play football? You always talk about guys liking or loving to play football.
I think a lot of that existed. I think everybody believed that here already to a certain extent. We talked more about finding guys that fit in, not so as players, because there's so much re-training we have to do. But there, the stability and having the same coach and the same philosophy and knowing the same players that they want to develop, lends itself to stability and success. I think we just added to everything.

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