The Pittsburgh Steelers lured Danny Smith away from the Redskins because of his coaching resume, but also because of his ties to the city.
Speaking at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Thursday, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin appreciated Smith’s special teams expertise from when his teams squared off against the veteran coordinator’s units. And Colbert was familiar with Smith from working with him in Detroit from 1990 to 2000.
“Coach Tomlin identified Danny. He has known Danny and worked against him in certain situations,” Colbert said. “I had the honor of working with Danny for two seasons in Detroit, when he was our tight ends coach and I was with the Detroit Lions. I knew Danny.”
Smith’s ties to Pittsburgh were nearly as important, Colbert said. Smith grew up in Pittsburgh, got his start in coaching at Pittsburgh’s Central Catholic High School and still has family in the area.
“He’s a Pittsburgh guy,” Colbert said. “There’s a lot of value in having Pittsburgh people join your organization. … There’s a lot of tradition and history, and a guy like Danny Smith and [offensive coordinator] Todd Haley, they understand and accept and want to be a big part of that.”
In January, Smith resigned from his position with the Redskins, which he had held for nine seasons, to accept the Steelers’ special teams job. Last week, Washington hired former Denver Broncos assistant Keith Burns to replace Smith.