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.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • steeltown

    Yea I tend to think he has a better chance of becoming OC in Minnesota and I think that was the major factor here

  • MP34

    Don’t overlook the fact that Wilson had the fire accident. We can only assume what that meant to him. I think personal life/the life away from football can play a role in these decisions. He just might want a fresh start with a coach with whom he’s familiar in a different town.

  • WilliamSekinger

    That’s the thing with Wilson though. Great person, ‘a class act and a fine human being’ as the author says, but how effective has Wilson been as a RB coach? He seems like one of those people that believes the time he has put in as a RB coach should automatically guarantee him an OC position. These types of people may be the greatest people in the world, but will never understand that results dictate whether you are qualified for a job or not.

    He is feeling entitled to a shot as an OC just because he has spent so many years as a RB coach…never mind the fact that his on the field product in those years was poor to average. I wish him all the success in the world, but I’m glad he isn’t the Steelers OC today.

  • Steve

    Would not say Coach Kirby was a poor RB coach. Bell did pretty well in 2013 and was brought in as a rookie. Coach Kirby had to show Bell a lot on blocking, catching out of the back field and running style. There is no way he is a poor coach. Coach Kirby had his work cut out for him. Bell was never asked to block 350lb guys before and catch passes out of the backfield and he did well. He also had 2 player come in from different teams (LSH and Felix) to teach how the RB’s on the Steelers do things.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Actually Bell was already catching balls in college, but no matter – I’m not putting him down or anything. I do love the praise. I watched interviews with Bell last year and watched his college tape and was absolutely convinced that he has the potential to be the best back in last year’s draft by far. Glad he is here.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    If you believe what he says, then he is probably trying to get new experience elsewhere to add to his resume and that may potentially get him an OC job. Okay, so let’s believe him for a moment.

    He may have thought that all that talk about Haley being a maniac and useless might result in someone going off the deep end, or whatever, and Haley getting fired. For one reason or another. Then he might have got the job in Pittsburgh. His moving on may indicate that things are actually going quite well and have the potential to improve immensely for Haley, the offense and the Steelers belief in Haley. Hence he decided to take his chances elsewhere.

    Could be.

  • CrazyTerry

    Did Redman not overachieve his first couple of years under Wilson?

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    His move makes sense to me, even though it is lateral. Moving to another team expands the number of coaches he gets to work with, which ultimately should help him down the line as those coaches move around the league.

  • MP34

    Good reply. It’s sad that we’re getting to a point that everything has to have a conspiracy theory behind it.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I never said he was a poor coach, I said the on the field product during his tenure was average to poor. There is a big difference.

  • Nathaniel Sullivan

    If your looking at on field talent for RB’s you have to account that the talent he was given…Dwyer, Mendenhall (was good entill he was scared to hit a hole), lost parker, Redman, and others. Plus you have to factor in our line was dreadful during the time he was here. I got to say he did a fine job for the talent and line he was given.