Steelers receivers coach Darryl Drake went to a local hospital with chest pains on the evening he died. According to Ed Bouchette of TheAthletic.com, tests showed no abnormalities, but doctors wanted to keep Drake overnight for observation.
He decided to return to training camp, and he attended meetings on Saturday night. Darrly Drake died overnight in his dorm room at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, at the age of 62.
The Steelers were off Sunday, and they canceled practice on Monday. Worked resumed Tuesday on a limited basis. The team returned to a normal schedule on Wednesday.
Tackle Alejandro Villaneuva credited Drake with helping the team get through issues that arose during the 2018 season, his first with the team.
“Last year, he obviously had a pretty important role with some of the distractions in the locker room and we all thought he handled that very well, and at the end of the day he spoke about the value of team and unity,” Villaneuva said, via Kaboly. “His voice was heard. He definitely was one of the coaches or individuals on the team who helped us get through a tough offseason and tough end of the season last year.”
Last year, the Vikings lost offensive line coach Tony Sparano shortly before the start of training camp. It was an underrated factor in the team’s overall struggles in 2018. The Steelers will now have to find a way to process their grief from Coach Drake’s passing and move forward. In the short term, it won’t be easy; it shoudn’t be.