Steelers still grieving after loss of Darryl Drake, but “we intend to march”

AP

Training camp is supposed to be the time when teams sequester themselves in football, isolate themselves from every worldly distraction.

Reality intruded on the Steelers, and the sudden passing of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake changed everything for the team.

They returned to the practice field Tuesday for the first time, but it was a somber day, with players gathering for prayer, many with tears in their eyes, before they returned to work. As much as they might have wanted to focus on football, however, it wasn’t going to be easy. The young receivers Drake worked with may not have been their sharpest, often taking breaks and being consoled by teammates.

We’re all devastated. I really can’t think of any other appropriate words,” Tomlin said, via Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com. “Our time and attention in recent days have been spent in support of the Drake family. Miss Sheila and Darryl’s daughters and extended family — many of us have had an opportunity to spend time with them through this. They’ve been amazing. In making arrangements and adjusting, we’ve tried to be as supportive organizationally to them as we can in what is a very difficult time.”

The team has brought in grief counselors, and gave players a two-day break from practice to begin the process of grieving. “It has been said that counseling is not for the weak but the wise,” Tomlin said.

He also refused to accept that getting back to work was going to help make things normal again.

“I don’t know that it does, but we have professional obligations,” Tomlin said. “So we intend to march.”

As they mourn and miss their coach and their friend, that’s the step they have to take at the moment, because it’s the one in front of them.

10 responses to “Steelers still grieving after loss of Darryl Drake, but “we intend to march”

  1. It is becoming more apparent that Tomlin is not the buffoon he has been made out to be. His leadership in the aftermath of Coach Drake’s death has been exemplary. Likewise, Tomlin’s guidance during the Bell/Brown drama last year produced a winning record.

  2. “We intend to March.” Does Mike Tomlin ever NOT talk like he’s on set of some freaking movie somewhere?

  3. Broncos fan here, but I have always liked Tomlin. I think most objective non-Steeler fans would love to have him over anyone, excluding the GOAT in Foxboro. As a player I would run through a wall for him. Listening to him, I mean he’s always human. Good men are good leaders and he’s done well there despite seemingly always having a drama to deal with. Prayers to the team and family as they grieve. Dedicate the year to a man who was clearly loved.

  4. He was relatively young, with a family, and beloved by the players he coached. This is sad and tragic. I hope the team continues to be a source of strength, support and $$ for the family.

  5. Feel for the Steelers — when Tony Sparano died in training camp last year, it negatively impacted the Vikes entire season.

  6. Great article – and kudos to Coach Tomlin for the way he’s handling this for his players and coaches – and himself. Agree with purpleguy; the Vikings season, especially for the OL, really went south after Coach Sparano passed away unexpectedly. Coach Tomlin (who was the Vikings defensive coordinator before the Steelers hired him) might give Coach Zimmer a call to see what he might have done differently last year.

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