There are certain aspects of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization you come to expect on a year-in and year-out basis. One would be someone with the last name Rooney with a controlling stake in the team. Another would be John Mitchell somewhere on the team’s coaching staff.
Wednesday Mitchell decided to change that, electing to retire after 29 years with the organization.
Assistant head coach John Mitchell has announced his retirement after 29 seasons with the #Steelers.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 15, 2023
Steelers team president Art Rooney II had this to say about Mitchell and his time with the organization:
#Steelers President Art Rooney II on John Mitchell: pic.twitter.com/kN8MdHdj2Q— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 15, 2023
Head coach Mike Tomlin also issued a statement about Coach Mitchell:
Coach Tomlin on John Mitchell: pic.twitter.com/vM9zqRMtvt— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 15, 2023
After spending nearly 2 decades coaching at both the college level and in the USFL, John Mitchell broke into the NFL‘s coaching ranks in 1991 with the Cleveland Browns. After three seasons in Cleveland as the defensive line coach under Bill Belichick, Mitchell came to the Pittsburgh Steelers under Bill Cowher in 1994. Serving as the Steelers defensive line coach through the rest of Cowher’s head coaching career, Mitchell added the title of assistant head coach as well as keeping his defensive line coach role when Mike Tomlin was hired by the Steelers in 2007. In 2018, Mitchell moved to the sole position of assistant head coach when the Steelers hired defensive line coach Karl Dunbar from the University of Alabama.
Outside of a stellar coaching career, Mitchell had a Hall of Fame career at the collegiate level too. He was a two-time Junior College All-American at Eastern Arizona Junior College. He transferred to the University of Alabama where he was Alabama’s first African-American All-American in 1972. He was a two-time All-SEC Player and a member of the Kodak All-American Team in 1972.
His statistics show 125 tackles with 12 behind the line of scrimmage, eight sacks, and five forced fumbles, recovering one. He has been an assistant coach in both the college and professional ranks. He became the first African-American defensive coordinator in SEC history in 1990 at LSU. As a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff, Mitchell was a part of the Steelers two Super Bowl victories in the 2005 and 2008 seasons.
As stated earlier, Mitchell has been a mainstay within the Steelers organization, and was recently placed in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Mitchell was well-respected by everyone he encountered, and will be missed. This is now the third coach the team has lost this offseason for multiple reasons, bringing their total to 15 coaches currently on the staff.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the NFL offseason.