Steelers WR coach Darryl Drake passed away this morning, the team announced. He was 62.
Drake, who played wide receiver at the collegiate level for Western Kentucky from 1975-78, never played a regular season snap in the NFL. However, he returned to his alma mater in 1983 as a graduate assistant, which kicked off a 36-year coaching career.
He got his first shot at an NFL coaching job in 2004, when he served as the wide receivers coach for the Bears. He held that position through the 2012 season before moving on the Cardinals. He worked as Arizona’s WR coach from 2013-17 and was hired in the same capacity by the Steelers last year, beating out team icon Hines Ward for the job.
Pittsburgh did not disclose a cause of death, though the team did cancel practice Sunday. Team president Art Rooney II issued the following statement:
“We are at a loss for words following Darryl Drake’s passing this morning. Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career. He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football. Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his three daughters, his grandchildren and entire family during this difficult time.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin released his own statement:
“Darryl was a close friend and had a tremendous impact on my coaching career. He was an amazing husband, father and grandfather, and it is difficult to put into words the grief our entire team is going through right now. Darryl loved the game of football and every player he ever coached. We will use our faith to guide us and help his family throughout the difficult time.”
We at PFR offer our condolences to Drake’s family and friends.