One of the most underrated and overlooked executives in football — undoubtedly by his own preference — is Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert. With the conclusion of the 2022 draft, Colbert exits the franchise after more than 20 years with the team.
His career comes from the book of childhood dreams come true. A teenager growing up in Pittsburgh as the Steelers rose to prominence in the 1970s, Colbert attended Robert Morris University, dabbled in basketball and baseball (he was the head baseball coach at Robert Morris in 1981) before landing in football.
At Ohio Wesleyan, he worked in two sports, working as an assistant coach on the football team and again serving as the head baseball coach, in 1984. That’s when football took over and he found the NFL, starting as a BLESTO scout before attracting the attention of Don Shula and the Dolphins. After five years in Miami, Colbert became the pro scouting director of the Lions for a decade, from 1990 through 1999.
Then came his opportunity to come home. In 2000, he was hired as director of football operations by the Steelers. A decade later, the man who had become the de facto G.M. received the title. He added a V.P. designation in 2016.
At his final press conference following the completion of the 2022 draft, Colbert fought back his emotions.
“I don’t want to say better than,” Colbert said when asked how he was leaving the organization. “I’m proud to say we added to that [trophy] room. It was four trophies. There was four when we got here. And you knew the task. You think about DMR [the late Dan Rooney] and being able to add to that room means a ton. It doesn’t mean it’s over. The next step, I mean we gotta get more than, and we’ll never lose that. But it means a lot.”
Colbert meant a lot to the Steelers. At the Scouting Combine (we’ve re-posted the interview to this article), Colbert left the door open to sticking around. In a very informative look back at Colbert’s career, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains that Colbert currently is expected to stick around in a different role.
Colbert made it clear he doesn’t want to be a hindrance to the next G.M. The next G.M., whoever it may be, would be very wise to keep a permanent seat at the table for a man who will do what he has always done. His job. Incredibly well, and without wasting any time trying to make anyone else notice what a great job he was doing.