In 1995, the Steelers made tight end Mark Bruener a first-round pick in the draft. He spent nine years with the team before jumping to Houston as a free agent.
But now he’s back.
Bruener has been hired as a college scout, the Steelers announced today.
After last playing in 2008, he’ll now launch into the thankless, grueling career that requires hours and hours of travel and film study and nights away from home and all of the grinding that equips a former player to evaluate, assess, harvest, and select talent. That’s the difference between former players like Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome and the likes of Jim Kelly or Jim Brown. The latter believe that playing experience translates to scouting skills. Though it surely helps, it’s no substitute for the roll-up-the-sleeves-and-bust-your-ass lifestyle that scouts adopt, with far less money and notoriety than they ever experienced as players.
As a result, not many former NFL players embrace scouting. Though who do — and those who thrive — could acquire the ability to shape the roster of their former teams not by popping off in the media but by having their hands on the wheel of the bus.