Throughout the spring, after OTAs, after workouts, after football was over for the day, the rookies gathered for a wide variety of meetings. They focused on life skills, including financial management and education, decision making, stress management, voter education, and more.
“It’s good to get those life skills,” said Darrel Young, the Steelers director of player development who oversees the program. “I am a firm believer those are transferable skills. There are so many things you do off the field that affect you on the field. If we can bring all of those things full circle, check your ego at the door with some things, or leave your problems in the parking lot and know that you are taken care of in here it’s a win.
“It’s good to get back into the groove of things, talk about the little nuances you don’t pay attention to while playing.”
Young, who played for the Washington Commanders, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers, spent time as the manager of player engagement and player relations at the NFL before joining the Steelers. It was what he learned during his playing days and time with the league that he is bringing to the rookies.
“You think about goals, tactics and KPIs in football,” said Young. “Our goal is to win. Our tactic is how we are going to go about it. And our KPI is how we measure success. With what we are doing, those things are transferred into the corporate side. You just break it down a different way.
“It’s very rewarding because you are getting through to a guy, getting to know them, what their values are, what they believe in and how it fits into the overall Steelers view of the standard is the standard. It’s much more than just a business for me. You measure a guy by their heart. I am just here to serve them. It’s great to have them open up, share what they like and don’t like. That shapes up the program moving forward and how I approach them off the field and work with them.”