Louis Riddick Leaving The ESPN Booth For Pittsburgh Steelers GM Gig? |”It’s Always Been A Career Goal Of Mine”

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the benchmark franchises in the NFL and creators of the controversial Rooney Rule, are set to interview current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst and former NFL front office executive Louis Riddick for their vacant GM position. 

Riddick is well liked and well respected around the league, and that means something in the NFL. Riddick last worked in the league in 2013 with the Philadelphia Eagles, as their director of pro personnel. A native of Pittsburgh, Riddick played his college football for the home state Pitt Panthers.

Louis Riddick’s Football Résumé Is Deep 

Riddick played six seasons in the NFL for three different teams. Upon retirement he joined the Washington staff as scout (2001-2004) and director of pro personnel from 2005-2007.

He joined the Eagles as a scout in 2008, he also held the title of assistant director of pro personnel (2009). He was promoted to director in 2010. His rise up the ladder was swift and effective, becoming the Eagles’ director of player personnel from 2010-2013.

His insight and analysis during ESPN’s football coverage is proof that he is in tune with every aspect of the league and is a forward thinker but also rooted in the traditional principles of the game. 

It’s widely believed that Riddick would be a home run hire, as he’s smart, inquisitive, knowledgeable and savvy. He’d work well with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who hasn’t had a losing season in 15 years in Steel City.

Riddick’s brain will be picked heavily, as the Steelers have some huge decision to make at QB and other key positions during this upcoming draft. 

Last month Riddick raved to The Associated Press about his broadcasting job but also mentioned he’d be willing to listen to interested teams about GM jobs.

“I have one of the great broadcasting jobs in America. I have always been very up front, starting with (ESPN President) Jimmy Pitaro that this is not a situation where I’m going, I want to get back to the NFL. If teams call and want to talk to me about being a general manager, then I have a definite interest in that kind of thing because it’s always been a career goal of mine, and it’s always been a challenge that I have been interested in. And if it were something that was a great fit for them and me, then sure, then we would take it down the road and see how far it would go.”

Steelers Used Rooney Rule Correctly: Landed NFL’s Greatest Black Coach 

The Rooney Rule, which was enacted in 2003, was designed to bring awareness of qualified minority candidates for NFL head coaching vacancies by requiring that all teams interview at least one minority candidate during a search. 

While the rule itself hasn’t borne much fruit as it pertains to Blacks becoming head coaches, it worked the way it was supposed to in 2007. That’s when the Steelers hired then-34-year-old Mike Tomlin after his-one season as the Vikings defensive coordinator. He wowed the Rooneys so much in his interview that they chose him over then longtime offensive line coach Russ Grimm.

Ken Whisenhunt was considered the heir apparent until Tomlin interviewed, so while the Rooneys debated on who to hire, Whisenhunt took the Arizona Cardinals job. Ironically, Tomlin beat both one season later in the Super Bowl as the Steelers beat the Cardinals.

No one knows if Riddick will get the job, but he has a shot, and that’s because of what happened in 2007 with this same franchise as the Rooney Rule did what it was designed to do. Can lightning strike twice? This time in the Steelers front office? 

Riddick Viewed as a Potential Candidate With Kevin Colbert Retiring

During the offseason there were rumors of former GM Kevin Colbert retiring, and Riddick’s name ended up on a short list of possible replacements. 

Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot wrote this week: 

“Sticking with Pittsburgh roots but Riddick is qualified to be an NFL GM regardless of geography. He’s considered one of the smartest people on the TV side of things, but he has an accomplished in-league background too. Breaking into the league as a scout in 2001, he worked his way up to becoming the Eagles’ Director of Player Personnel from 2010-2013.”

Kozora added that working at ESPN has given Riddick,”the chance to talk to players and coaches around the league in pre-production meetings, picking their brains and gathering insight few would be able to do. He’s garnered interest on a near annual basis, interviewing for the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, among other teams.”

Home Is Where the Heart Is 

Riddick grew up near Philadelphia but played his college ball at Pitt. His cousin Tim Lewis was the Steelers’ DB coach and eventual defensive coordinator in the late ’90s to early 2000s. With their history and stability, the Steelers would surely be an attractive enough job to entice Riddick to leave the booth. 

There are two completely different levels of stress when it comes to talking on television versus constructing and managing an NFL franchise 

It’s been a while since he’s been in the league, but his ESPN job has kept him right on the doorstep of a return if the right situation comes along. 

Riddick has his shot, now watch him work.