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Our new book Steelers Takeaways – taking the best stories and quotes from over 400 Steelers interviews and breaking them down by topic and generation – is now available. Order via Amazon and Barnes and Noble!
See what these former Steelers and others have to say about the book!
First, can you let readers know what you’ve been doing with yourself since your time coaching in the NFL ?
Well, I’m retired, I’m seventy-nine years old and am back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio where I grew up and went to school. I have three children and ten grandchildren and lots of activities to go to. Birthday parties, seemingly every other weekend, games… It’s great watching them grow up and play. It’s a full time job and I love it.
Let’s start with your hire in Pittsburgh as the offensive line coach. How did that happen? What did Noll say to you?
I was very fortunate to be hired by the Steelers. Noll was looking for an offensive line coach and I was an offensive line coach for years. I talked with Chuck through Dick Haley at first. He quizzed me on offensive line play. I had great mentors at Bowling Green where I coached and played before – great coaches there. So I had great respect for offensive line play.
First, can you let us know us know what you’re next steps are in your coaching/post-NFL career?
I left a really good job at the NFL Network as an analyst to give something back to young players as a coach. These milliennials players are a different kind of player and have a different kind of need. I’ve coached for five or more years now and I am trying to get deeper into giving back to others what was given to me.
Joel Steed: “Coach Mitchell – he was just incredible. He should be up for a head coaching job. He really understood the pressure. The moment of now.”
Casey Hampton: “Coach Mitchell treated everyone the same at first. He was a great coach. Once you proved yourself he’d treat you a certain way then. He treated everyone differently and was very tough, but he was always fair.”
Aaron Smith: “It’s funny. As a rookie I hated Mitch. I couldn’t stand him. I thought he despised me and I despised him. Then the next year the Steelers drafted another defensive lineman and I saw how hard he was on him. I realized then it wasn’t about me.
First, can you let us know a little about your path post-NFL?
I worked for my former coach at Notre Dame, Bob McBride after the NFL. He had a trucking company and I was the salesperson for the Midwest section of the country. They hauled steel out of Chicago. A couple of years later I got homesick and my family called me to tell me my mother was ill, so I moved back home to Natick.
I entered my family’s painting business and was involved in that for a few years then opened up my own restaurant. A drive-in.
So you were busy! Was the post-NFL adjustment difficult?
It wasn’t that hard at all. We didn’t make the money then that the players make today. They make four or five million a year then have to find a job somewhere to keep up their lifestyle. That is much more difficult than it was in my day. I made $17,00 a year. My first contract was $10,000 a year.
First, tell me a bit about what you’ve been doing since your time in the NFL?
I’ve been spending a lot of time with my son – he’s into sports so I’m trying to make myself available to him. Spending time with my family and relaxing…
How hard was that post-NFL adjustment for you?
It was a little bit of an adjustment. My body was hurting so bad it didn’t matter. I loved the game but I was just hurting too bad. I knew it was time to hang it up. I’m a very family-oriented guy, so that was easy for me.
On the anniversary of Art Rooney Sr.’s birthday, some stories about The Chief from former Steelers players:
First, as you just recently retired, can you let us know what your next steps have been since your time in the NFL?
I’m just catching up now to my family life. My wife waited for me for years while I was in the NFL…. I just got married last year and have a newborn. I’m starting a new life…my wife and I are starting a business together but it’s still early to talk about that.
It’s officially my first year being retired, so I’m just getting done sitting on my butt and getting things done!
First, since your retirement from the NFL you’ve done some interesting things in terms of work and travel. Tell us a bit about those?
Well starting from the beginning…it was a journey since my time in the NFL. It took time to figure out what I wanted to do.
I took a couple of years after the NFL and traveled the world. I went to twenty-eight different countries so far. During that time I had a good friend who ran a jewelry distribution company and I partnered with him. I’ve been learning that business for a year-and-a-half now.
DeMarcus Ayers: “Coach Mann with his inspirational talks. He talked about guys in Tampa Bay who worked their way up the roster to start and contribute.”
C.J. Goodwin: Coach Mann was a great help. He was a blessing. He didn’t care if you were a first round pick or not – he sat you down and went over things with you like you were the number one guy.”
First, tell us a bit about how you ended up in Pittsburgh?
Well, I was drafted by the Rams as a junior out of college. I hurt my knee and I thought I was done, but they drafted me in the twenty-fifth round then. I played in the Blue-Gray game and they signed me after that. I played very little in preseason.. I got in shape and came back in time and played the Steelers that preseason in the last game.
I caught a pass for a touchdown in the first quarter of that game and remember running by Steelers Coach Buddy Parker and watching him throw his clipboard down as I ran by him. The next day me and Billy Ray Smith were in the hotel lobby getting ready to leave when a guy walked up to us and told us Pete Rozell wanted to talk to us, and that we should bring our playbooks. That was never a good thing. Turns out the Steelers traded for us.