Sly and the Family Stone had a hit record in 1979 with, “We Are Family.” That is a very apt description of a Steelers organisation that was personified last week with the unexpected death of their wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.
Steeler Nation have always known the Steelers organisation is a family. There’s been the occasional black sheep and disgruntled employee who considered their value was under-estimated. But, overall the Steelers have always been held in high esteem.
The death of coach Drake confirmed the family that is the Steelers organisation. The outpouring of grief within the Steelers team was palpable. Coach Drake had only seen one full season with the Steelers, but it was obvious the impact he had made on the players and staff.
Matt Sunday wrote a lovely article for DKPittsburghSports and highlighted the actions of James Washington and Ryan Switzer the first day back at training.
“Two members of your family. Two members who had only been with this team and Drake for a year before today. They emerged bonded together, comforting each other in the wake of this terrible news.
If you search the faces, there was only sadness, and pain.”
The Steelers are professionals and having dealt with their grief in a very public way now have to return to preparing for the new season. Not an easy matter, especially for the receivers who spent their time with Coach Drake. They cancelled two days of practice, but they won’t be long enough for those closest to him.
Everyone has to deal with tragedy in their life and for some of the younger players, this might be the first time they have faced it.
Ben, “I only knew him for a year and a half. But I think he meant more to me than some people that I’ve known for my whole life.”
Ryan Switzer, “Coach Drake always called us his sons. He didn’t have any boys. He always called us his sons. We took that at the beginning of camp. He just called us his sons.”