Steelers, NFL players and coaches pay tribute to Darryl Drake on social media
The death of Darryl Drake on Sunday morning at training camp at Saint Vincent College stunned the NFL.
Tributes to the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach on social media from players and coaches were heartfelt.
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who blossomed into a 100-catch, 1,000-yard Pro Bowl pick under Drake, called him “honestly my favorite coach I’ve had in this game.”
“He taught me so much about football and how to go about life,” Smith-Schuster wrote on Twitter. “Coach was an amazing role model not only for myself but for a lot of people who he touched. … It won’t be the same out there on the field, in meetings, and I’m gonna to miss all those long talks we used to have.”
Rest In Peace Coach Drake pic.twitter.com/N6tg9h2kez
— JuJuSmith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) August 11, 2019
Drake’s meetings started with the scripture. Former Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey tweeted that he spent the day going through old videos from their position meetings, and even shared a 10-second clip that he hoped “shows everyone why the football community is hurting right now.”
Imashare a lilvideo of how Coach Drake would start every meeting. I hope these 10sec shows everyone why the football community is hurting right now. RIP COACH WE LOVE YOU. REST EASY! pic.twitter.com/GsrSuskJfT
— DarriusHeyward-Bey(@theDHB85) August 11, 2019
“That young group of WRs will miss him big time,” Heyward-Bey wrote. “Wish I was there to support.”
One of those young receivers Drake pushed the Steelers to draft is rookie Diontae Johnson, a third-round pick from Toledo. During the NFL Draft, Drake thanked Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin for believing in Johnson.
Johnson returned that favor.
“Coach Darryl Drake took a chance on me and gave me a chance to live out my dream,” Johnson tweeted. “He believed in me and stayed on me every day.”
Coach Darryl Drake took a chance on me and gave me an opportunity to live out my dream. He believed in me and stayed on me everyday. May you Rest In Peace and know we love you coach. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/lJjwHsw3sF
— DiontaeSpencer (@DSpencer4_) August 11, 2019
Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer, who joined the team the week before the season opener last year, called Drake “one of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to be around.”
— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) August 12, 2019
And Tomlin’s son, Dino, a freshman at Maryland, paid tribute to Drake by quoting his advice on making a sideline catch: “Don’t drag the toe, click it, click it…”
“Don’t drag the toe, click it, click it…”🖤
— Dino Tomlin (@DinoTomlin) August 12, 2019
Drake had an impact on Steelers defensive players, as well. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt tweeted about how Drake “was always so positive and upbeat,” and inside linebacker Mark Barron mentioned their “uplifting” conversations.
Coach Drake was always so positive and upbeat, he will be greatly missed by all of us. Our thoughts are with his family during this tragic time.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) August 11, 2019
Only had a few interactions with him..eachone was positive and reassuring hence forth every convo we had was uplifting. Not thtI was looking for tht..it just seemed to be who he was as a man and a coach. For thtI thank him. Praying ththe is at peace. RIP COACH DARRYL DRAKE 🙏🏾
— Mark Barron (@M_B_24) August 12, 2019
R.I.P Coach Drake. this was such a great man. I hate to hear the news about you leaving us but now your in a better place. Lord thank you for allowing me to know him and can your provide strength to his fam. https://t.co/RksXcuzNfk
— Ryan Shazier(@RyanShazier) August 11, 2019
The tributes came from all over the NFL, from coaches Tony Dungy and Bruce Arians and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson to former Drake pupils Larry Fitzgerald and Devin Hester.
“He was a tremendous coach,” Dungy said, “and an even better man.”
Darryl Drake was in our coaches bible study. He was a tremendous coach and an even better man. This is hard to believe and we’re all going to miss him. But it’s proof of what the Bible says—tomorrow is not promised to us. 🙏🏽🙏🏽for his family and his players. https://t.co/KAcu1t4ULr
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) August 11, 2019
We lost a great man, husband father, coach and a dear friend Darryl Drake. Our prayers go out to his family. RIP brother pic.twitter.com/V0U3fvLleP
— Bruce Arians (@BruceArians) August 11, 2019
— Rod Woodson (@RodWoodson26) August 11, 2019
Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel about “Coach Drake” death. We are here to support you in your grieving process. With sincere sympathy,
“Coach” brought so many gifts to our life. We will never… https://t.co/Pwfa1SzWyd
— Devin Hester (@D_Hest23) August 12, 2019
I’m heartbroken for anyone who had the privilege to know Darryl. As a man, a coach, a husband, and a father, he was as good as they come. pic.twitter.com/VEVmjdVGbL
— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) August 11, 2019
“He was,” Fitzgerald said, “as good as they come.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .