The Pittsburgh Steelers lost an important member of the organization over the weekend when wide receivers coach Darryl Drake passed away suddenly at the age of 62. This loss shook the team to the core, and they actually stepped away from football in order to support Drake's family and properly mourn. Practice sessions on Sunday and Monday were canceled, and the team campus at Saint Vincent College was closed.
The team officially returned to work on Tuesday, taking part in another practice session that will lead to this weekend's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the Steelers did not immediately hit the field and start stretching or running drills. Instead, the team took some time for a moment of silence in order to honor Drake's memory.
A special moment before Tuesday’s practice for Coach Drake. pic.twitter.com/gQh55qPzrx— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 13, 2019
“We’re all devastated by [the passing of Coach Drake]. I really can’t think of any other appropriate words,” head coach Mike Tomlin said after practice on Tuesday. “Our time and attention in the recent days has been spent in support of the Drake family. Miss Sheila and Darryl’s daughters and extended family – many of us have had an opportunity to spend time with them through this. They’ve been amazing. In making arrangements and adjusting, we’ve tried to be as supportive organizationally to them as we can in what is a very difficult time.
“Professionally the loss is significant, but personally it’s even bigger. Those of us who knew and had personal relationships with Coach Drake all feel that way. We realize we don’t have a lot of answers, and with that being said we brought in some professional grief counselors to assist us through this tough time. It is said that counseling is not for the weak but for the wise, so we seek people who have expertise in helping others deal with such circumstances.”
According to the Steelers website, the team is spending the available time trying to conduct business but understand that this is a far more difficult process. The grief counselors will aid the players and coaches as they forge ahead toward the season, but they will also take time to pray and grieve.
As Tomlin explained, the Steelers have professional obligations and intend to march forward, but the moment of silence on Tuesday proves that he and his team will not be letting Drake's memory fade.