Former Steelers Coach Kirby Wilson Claims Relationship With Todd Haley Was Not Strained
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson left a few weeks ago to take the same position on the coaching staff of the Minnesota Vikings and on Tuesday, he was asked to explain his decision to make that lateral move in an interview on 93.7 The Fan.
“First of all, let me say that during my seven years there, I absolutely loved it,” Wilson started. “I loved the city, I loved the organization, the people I worked with, the fans, the players. There wasn’t a negative mark in my mind, because I loved it there so much and I felt the love from the community and the organization.
“It’s just after, you know, a certain amount of years in your career, you look for a change sometimes. And that’s what I did, and that was solely what it was based on. It wasn’t anything internally, it wasn’t anything about the players, it was just about a change and a fresh start and a new opportunity to look at what else was out there. And it might look like a lateral move, but it’s still new to me.”
When it was announced that Wilson was leaving, speculation ran rampant that he and offensive coordinator Todd Haley had a strained relationship, but Wilson quickly dispelled that notion when asked to comment about that rumor.
“Not at all,” said Wilson. “And Todd’s an excellent football coach and he’s been around a long time and my relationship with Todd, as well as the other coaches, was very good and there was never an issue behind closed doors, there was never an issue on the field in front of the players.
“We were always professional and we did the best we could to try to bring a championship there together and unfortunately it didn’t happen in our two years working together.”
Wilson went on to say that he really thought he was going to get the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator position that he interviewed for and admitted that he still strives to eventually land such a job in the NFL. In the meantime, he has a strong relationship with Vikings new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who he worked for when the two were with the Washington Redskins several years ago, and that he likely would have gone with Turner no matter where he might have ended up had the same opportunity been available someplace else.
While Wilson will now get a chance to coach the great Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, he was asked to talk about Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and he had nothing but good things to say about the Michigan State product, who now heads into his second season in the league.
“I tell you what, the future is extremely bright for Mr. Bell and if he stays hungry, if he continues to work at it, I really believe he’ll be a Pro Bowl player next year and for many years to come,” said Wilson. “He’s outstanding, he has a tremendous work ethic, he’s thick-skinned, he can be coached hard, he’s football smart, he’s a team player and he’s going to be a great team leader.
“As young guys, you tend to lose that desire and that hungriness, and if he can continue to push himself, and be self-motivated, and listen to the great coaches that he has there, he’s going to have an outstanding year and career, and the sky’s the limit for him.”
Something still doesn’t add up here with Wilson, who claims he is not bitter for being passed over for the Steelers offensive coordinator job, as that happened while he was still recovering from the serious burns suffered in a home house fire just prior to the 2011 Wild Card game against the Denver Broncos.
Perhaps Wilson firmly believes that Turner will soon be given one more shot to be a head coach and that that will result in him getting the offensive coordinator job either in Minnesota, or with the team that hires Turner. Regardless, Wilson is a class act and a fine human being, and hopefully he gets an opportunity at some point to accomplish his goal.