clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ron Zook makes it official, Green Bay is now Pittsburgh North Central

New, comments

I say "Ron Zook" and you scream "Bill Cowher's 3rd special teams coach!" Right? OK, maybe not. Ah, but there's a tale to be told involving intrigue, adventure and a slow burning Pittsburgh plot for revenge for Super Bowl XLV with Ron Zook serving as the unwitting catalyst.... Read on young Padawan.

Jamie Squire

Ken Whisenhunt started it.

When he left Pittsburgh to become Cardinals head coach he took Russ Grimm, Kevin Spencer, and Matt Raich with him.  Steelers alumni Ray Horton, Desha Townsend, and John Lott trickled into the coaching staff in due course. (Who is John Lott? He played 1 game as Steelers offensive lineman in 1987. Might not sound like a big deal, but the guy does get to tell his grand kids that he suited up and played along side Mike Webster and John Stallworth....)

Whisenhunt didn't limit his poaching to coaching.

In time, Clark Haggans, Crezdon ButlerChukky OkobiNick Eason, Jerame Tuman, Sean Morey, Joey Porter, and Alan Faneca held down roster spots in Arizona. There was only one conclusion. Change the name "Arizona" to "Pittsburgh West."The name stuck. Really, it did. Whisenhunt is gone, but Bruce Arians replaced him, Alameda Ta'amu and Rashard Mendenhall migrated south in pursuit.

Next, Buffalo decided to get into the act. 

Doug Whaley left the Steelers to join the Bills front office in 2010. Last year Ralph Wilson promoted him to general manager. Over the last year Doug Legursky, Crezdon Butler, Corbin Bryant, Frank Summers, Kraig Urbik and Keith Williams have spent time on the Bills roster.

Adding to the irony, Greg Lloyd Jr., son of the legendary Steelers linebacker Greg Lloyd Sr., gave up his roster spot to make room for Legursky. The trend had been building for a while, former Steelers offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was even the head coach for a while, but was not consummated until Neal Coolong did the honors last spring dubbing Buffalo "Pittsburgh Northeast."

Now its time for Green Bay to take a bow.

The links between the Packer's staff and Pittsburgh, if not the Steelers, were well documented prior to Super Bowl XLV and continued to be discussed prior to the Steelers trip to Lambeau last December. Yet no one thought to really tinker with the town's name - when your moniker is Title Town you've earned such immunity.

That may be about to change, however.

The Packers did some reshuffling of their coaching staff following the season. Kevin Greene made a high-profile exit of his own accord, but the move exposed something interesting about the inner workings of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy's Packers.

You see, Green Bay apparently has latent quota on its coaching staff that is earmarked for former Steelers or at least people with ties to Pittsburgh.

Ergo, the decision to hire former Steelers special teams coach Ron Zook to play the same role in Green Bay.

While Zook's ties to the Steelers might not run as deep as some, he does carry the distinction of being the lone special teams coach to break the dreaded Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde cycle, (one bad, one good) that has plagued the Steelers special teams coaches since Chuck Noll finally relented and named Jon Kolb the team's first full time special teams coach in 1987. (Klob was a Mr. Hyde, for the record.)

While he might not have lived up to the legend of his predecessor Bobby April, (the ultimate Steelers special teams Dr. Jekyll,) Zook did a solid job during his tenure from 1996 to 1998, earning him his own Dr. Jekyll token. (Zook's successor, Jay Hayes earned a big Mr. Hyde token in the '01 AFC Championship game.)

And that's enough to give you your Friday Steelers trivial fix, cement Zook's Steeler credentials and allow us to make it official: Green Bay is now Pittsburgh North Central.