Kordell Stewart hasn’t played in the NFL in seven years and hasn’t played for the Steelers in ten years, but he was back in Pittsburgh today for a ceremony at which he retired as a Steeler.
“I just wanted some closure with my NFL career,” Stewart said. “I wanted to finish it off as a Steeler. This is where I started. I talked to Mr. [Art] Rooney and he gave me the opportunity to finish it out as a Steeler. This means a lot. It lets me know how much they appreciate what I have done. I just want to tell Mr. Rooney and Dan Rooney the appreciation I have toward them and how they stuck by me during the tough times. When I talk about the Rooney family and how they do their business, they do it better than anybody.”
After a successful college career as a run-pass threat at Colorado, no one was quite sure what to make of Stewart’s pro prospects. But the Steelers selected him in the second round of the 1995 NFL draft and created a new position for him, a receiver/running back/quarterback/special teams hybrid, and all those slashes in the name of his position earned him the nickname Slash. After two years as Slash, the Steelers made Stewart their starting quarterback, and he had an up-and-down career, capable of occasional brilliance but never able to produce consistently as a passer.
The experiment with building the Steelers’ offense around Stewart wasn’t always successful, but he says it was always fun.
“It was phenomenal,” Stewart said. “From being ‘Slash,’ to going to the Super Bowl, getting my opportunity at quarterback, doing some outstanding things, to having some tough times which is a part of the game, and finishing strong when needed. It was an ebb and flow type of career I had. There were highs and lows, but perspective was set in to the point where if you understand anything in life that is what you will have, the ups and downs, understanding that I had a great time.”