Reporting Jory Rand
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s been a decade since Kordell Stewart last played for the Steelers, but today, the man they called “Slash” returned to Pittsburgh to officially retire as a Steeler.
“Talking to Mr. Rooney, he still gave me the opportunity to … finish out as a Steeler and why not?” Stewart said. “That’s where it all started. That’s where my success was and this is some closure that I wanted to have and I needed to have with my career.”
It’s a career that had some ups and downs – from an AFC Championship appearance his rookie season to a team MVP several years later , to several benchings in between and even death threats from fans.
“It was an ebb and flow-type career I had,” Stewart said. “One way I had tons of highs and tons of lows.”
“There was some bitterness – it was some bitterness,” he added. “But at the same time, I was at peace with myself even in those times, asking, ‘Is it really that serious to the point that people were sending me death threats?’
“But the best thing about it is the fan base, the media – they just have high expectations, but none never as high as mine,” Stewart continued.
It was those expectations that led Stewart to stay in shape all these years just in case he got the call.
“Just the typical athlete – not wanting to let it go so to speak, but then it got to this year and perspective kind of set in and I said, ‘You know, I need to get some closure in some areas,’” he said. “And again, they’ve allowed it to happen.”
Stewart still has a tie to the current version of the Steelers. Todd Haley was Stewart’s quarterbacks coach with the Chicago Bears. He said Haley is a tough and demanding coach, but expects he’ll bring the best out of Ben Roethlisberger.