Kevin Colbert is not a person you would automatically assume has position of extraordinary power or prestige. His looks and mannerisms would not seem out of place behind the counter of a bait and feed store or an insurance office in the South.
Despite that he’s been at or near the top of his profession for over a decade as the Steelers’ director of football operations he’s been instrumental in building two teams that have made it to the Super Bowl during his tenure. Previously he was the pro scouting director for Detroit and was scout prior to that for the Lions, Dolphins and BLESTO.
He is not more high profile at least in part due to his low-key, but approachable manner and the fact that he seems to fit rather seamlessly into the cogs of the Steelers’ machine. Still there are very few as competent or respected as Colbert. He had some interesting insight into the way scouting has changed over the years. “Back in the late 60′s and early 70′s when Bill [Nunn] and those guys were doing it you were pretty much on your own. As its evolved its more of a group thing. But when we bring our scouts and coaches and personnel people together we just have to evaluate our wants and needs”
When asked about the competition for 3-4 outside linebackers he acknowledged it but wasn’t overly concerned. “We have been dealing with it, there are teams they pick it up [the 3-4] and drop but I believe the number is floating around 14. Well there’s only so many players that fit that so you have to find them. In talking about having people like Todd Haley, Joe Greene, Carnell Lake and Jerry Olsavsky, etc. ‘Pittsburgh People’ within the organizatio, “There’s a lot of value in having ‘Pittsburgh People’ because they understand the history and tradition, they are familiar already.”
Colbert did not agree that the Steelers were undergoing a transition, “Transition implies that you’re going to accept something other than the very best. That’s not the case.” The other rather intriguing line of questioning concerned Jimmy Haslam, a former part-owner of the Steelers who recently purchased the Browns. “He [Haslam] had a real passion for football and he was knowledgeable particularly about the SEC and Tennessee guys since he was in that area. We really talked in general…we didn’t get into philosophies we didn’t have time.”
Kevin Colbert will probably never be featured on ‘A Football Life’ or make it into the Hall of Fame and one gets the impression that those things do not matter to him. He seems content to build teams that have a chance to win football games and eventually Super Bowls. While not exactly newsworthy that is the truth at the heart of both Colbert’s and the team’s success.