PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — Former Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson joined The Fan Morning Show on Wednesday to speak for the first time since leaving the Steelers to take the same job with the Vikings.
He explained that his departure had everything to do with his career path and nothing to do with the Steelers’ organization.
“During my seven years here, I absolutely loved it,” Wilson said. “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.”
He told the guys that his relationship with Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley hadn’t become strained, as some speculated it might have.
“Not at all,” Wilson said. “Todd’s an excellent football coach. 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.”
While he acknowledged that disagreements happen on any staff, he credited Haley and head coach Mike Tomlin for the way that they handle decision-making.
“Coach Tomlin did a great job of making sure that every coach had input,” Wilson said. “And I thought Todd did an outstanding job of delegating that.”
He said that his reasoning for looking for a change is the same reasoning that anybody uses when they want a fresh start.
“It’s just goal-oriented,” Wilson said. “I’m no different from a beat writer that wants to be an editor, or someone that works at the post office, or someone that works at Giant Eagle, or at PNC Bank. You’re always looking to better yourself and for an opportunity to advance, and that’s solely what it was. I definitely aspire to be an offensive coordinator, and that’s something I’ve worked for a very long time, to become one. And hopefully one day that will happen.”
He almost realized that dream by landing the Ravens’ offensive coordinator job this offseason, even though things didn’t work out in the end.
“I think I was extremely close to getting that,” Wilson said. “In fact, I thought I was going to be offered the position the day of the last interview, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I was very disappointed as a professional, because it’s something I’ve been preparing for a very long time. But, you know, it wasn’t meant to be, or it would have happened. I’ll be that much more prepared for it when it does come, but it was a great experience.”
He explained that his existing relationship with new Vikings’ Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner was a major reason for him wanting to coach in Minnesota, whereas the fact that he’ll get to coach Adrian Peterson didn’t have a huge impact on his decision.
“The relationship with Norv was what it was all about,” Wilson said. “The fact that AP was the running back here is the bonus. It’s kind of like the icing on the cake, that’s a luxury. I would have gone with Norv no matter where it might have been had the same opportunity been available someplace else.”
When asked if he was bitter about his career potentially being held back by the fire at his house in 2012 that left him injured, he explained that he doesn’t let that drag him down too much.
“Bitter? No.” Wilson said. “Disappointed? Yes. Was there a challenge physically and mentally? Absolutely. But that’s my makeup. I’ve always accepted challenges head on. I’ve always been goal-oriented. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve always been driven. And that will continue to be the same.”
Despite all that, he was especially thankful for the Steelers’ decision to allow him to interview for jobs with other teams this offseason.
“That’s what I was most pleased with,” Wilson said. “They could have said no. But that’s the class of the Rooney family.”
The interview can be heard here: