Kevin Colbert doesn't do interviews during the regular season so as not to be a distraction. But the Pittsburgh Steelers director of football operations was talking at the Super Bowl this week and here's what he had to say:
Does this make things more difficult for you and your scouts having to deal with this along with scouting?
Not really. We're prepared as well as we can be to this point. It will back up the coaches' involvement to some degree because I'm sure they'll have some time off after this and the combine comes up in 2 1/2 weeks. We'll be ready to go, but it's more difficult for the coaches. But the last time, we caught up pretty quick. You've just got to do what you've got to do to catch up.
Was the combine this close to the Super Bowl in 2006?
Yeah, it was the same. We'll be ready. We've done what we can without the coaches to this point. We'll catch them up whenever Mike (Tomlin) gets them back to work.
Is it difficult to think about next year while all of this is still going on?
We do that all year round. We're scouting kids and doing our college work, so we do that anyway. The coaches are focused on this game and I try to stay as close as I can to this game without losing my responsibilities of preparing for free agency and the draft. It's my job to kind of keep going through all of this.
How much of free agency is evaluating your own guys?
That's an ongoing evaluation. Every day they practice, they're evaluated. When this is all done, we'll sit down and see and start piecing the puzzle together, who we can keep and who we might have to go to from the outside. Obviously, the more success you have, the more you're going to want to keep this together the best you can.
Putting the transition tag on Max Starks before the season caused quite a stir, looking back on it, it worked out. What's your reaction to that?
When we did that with Max, we were confident that he could help us if the situation presented itself, which it did. We were very fortunate to have him in there. When we did it, a transition on a backup didn't make a lot of sense, but in our mind, we felt there was no way that we were going to be as good a team without him. We were willing to do a long-term deal, but we weren't able to get that done. We could do it from a cap standpoint and forunately he was here when we needed him and he's played well.
Anything you'd like to say to people who knocked that move?
No, not at all. Every decision we make is not going to be popular, it's not going to be the right decision. We're going to make mistakes. But hopefully, we make more correct decisions than incorrect ones. I'm happy Max was here and was able to provide us with the kind of depth that we needed, especially on the offensive line. Having been part of that group before, we knew he could come in and contribute and he has.
When you look at Marvel (Smith) and his back problem, how tough is it to evaluate that? That could end his career.
Potentially it could. After this, we'll see where Marvel is as he enters into free agency. I'm sure other teams will look at him medically as they would any free agent. Where he was in Novemeber, where he is now in January, where he's going to be in March or even July and August will probably be different. I don't view it as an injury being a career-ender until you know for sure.
Do you take more pride that this team is here more so than 2005 because this is a team that you largely built?
No. Obviously they're both special. But I'm more happy for the guys who have never been through this, the 25 players or whatever it is who have never been through this, the coaches that are here for the first time. Those are the people I'm happiest for. Any team that gets here, you're happy it came together and you're proud that it came together. But we really think they're all special. This doesn't happen too often. Fortunately, we've had the chance to experience and hopefully we can finish it off.
But this one has you and your staff's stamp all over it.
Yeah, but that's what we're supposed to do. And again, guys like Coach Tomlin, this is his second Super Bowl, one as an assistant and now one as head coach. Some of his staff members who haven't ever been here, they're a part of it too. And the guys that are the new players, that haven't been through this, I think it's special for them.
Just once, will you pump your chest and say this one's for me?
I'm not that guy.
Will you make it a priority to bring back either Starks or Marvel just so you have a guy there who's done it?
Again, obviously this is a pretty good team and we're going to want to keep it together the best we can. What combination, I really can't say at this point because we really haven't sat down as a staff. Our scouts have been evaluating colleges and the free agents. But we haven't sat down as an ownership group, as a coaching staff with Mike Tomlin and myself, and we won't until after the season. Our focus obviously is this. The four of us haven't had that opportunity yet. Hopefully that will come in February.
Is it a thing that if you win, their value goes up?
I think it's inevitable that you're not going to be able to keep everybody. You'd love to, but realistically, we probably won't be able to. Hopefully, the losses will be minimal.
Have you seen that Super Bowl bounce, guys who win Super Bowls have their price tag go up?
I think if I was on the outside looking in, guys who are in the playoffs and Super Bowl, you know they've been through a certain level of games and they've performed. That, to me, adds to their credibility. They have extra exposure to pressure situations and have shown an ability to handle it. I think that makes them more valuable.