First, can you let readers know about your post-NFL coaching career – how you got started and what you enjoy most about it?
In my post-playing career. I spent five years with the Green Bay Packers as their Outside Linebackers coach. Having played for Coach Dom Capers for two teams, he knew my work ethic and recommended me to the Head Coach for an interview. I enjoyed working with the many fine players that were entrusted to me, and sharing secrets of the trade as well as many lessons in life that I have learned.
What coaches and coaching lessons have influenced you most now as a coach, and how does the fact you played in the NFL help you as you coach now?
I relied on my fifteen years of NFL experience to coach my outside linebackers. Nothing can compensate for actually logging playing time in cleats and developing a ‘vision’ of how to be successful playing a specific position.
With the changes in today’s game to a more pass-oriented style of play, how does that affect the way you coach?
Because it’s such a pass happy league now, the outside linebacker position in a 3-4 has more coverage responsibility now than ever before. Countless hours were devoted to pass coverage concepts, techniques and fundamentals.
You had a terrific career, especially having started as a walk-on at Auburn and entering the NFL as a fifth-round pick – playing for over ten seasons. What do you owe that longevity to?
I owe my longevity to: Being blessed no doubt. Work ethic. Study habits. Eating habits. Workout habits. We first form our habits and then our habits form us.
You signed on with the Steelers as a rare “big splash” free agent in 1993. Why did you decide to sign with Pittsburgh and what did they tell you your role would be?
I signed with the Steelers in 1993 because: They employed a 3-4 defense and they wanted me to play Left Outside Linebacker. I feel in love with the city of Pittsburgh. Coming through the Ft. Pitt Tunnel for the first time and seeing the city of Pittsburgh in all it’s glory was awesome.
How competitive were you and the other linebackers with one another, and how so?
It was always competitive having Greg Lloyd on the other side as my hunting buddy. It was always, ‘ I’m gonna beat your slow ass to the quarterback’. ‘ Not today Slappy’. Haha. We had so much fun. It was an honor to play with him and Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown, Jerry-O, Woodson, Carnell Lake, all my brothers on that team.
How much did humor play a part on those Steelers teams, and how so? Can you give a couple of examples of some funny things that occurred, on or off the field?
Funny stuff happened all the time. The locker room was non-stop laughter with zingers going around enough for everybody. What happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.
You were close to being selected to the Hall of Fame this year. How important is that to you and what do you think about the selection process itself?
The Hall of Fame would be cool. I’ll wait my turn.
What do you think of the way the game has changed over the past few seasons?
As a defensive player, I don’t like all the rules that benefit the offense. My thoughts are to let the big boys play, let ’em go. It’s pro football, turn ’em loose.
You ended up playing for five teams over your career – and coaching for a sixth now in Green Bay. How hard is that as a player, going from city to city, and what advice would you give to young players now entering the sport?
Advice for young players: keep your mouth shut, respect the game, respect your coaches, respect the organization, respect the fans, do it the right way all the time. What you do on the field speaks volumes. Have fun and enjoy the ride. Don’t just go through the motions, live the emotions.
Any last thoughts for readers?
There you have it Ron, hope this is what you’re looking for. Take care. KG
Read more by former Steelers via the book Steelers Takeaways: Player Memories Through the Decades. To order, just click on the book: