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Munchak: 'He set the standard for me'

Posted Oct 26, 2016

Offensive line coach Mike Munchak's dad set the standard for him, and now he sets it for others.

Mike Munchak is loved by his players, respected by all of them, and credited by many with their success.

Munchak’s success, though, doesn’t come as a surprise to those who knew him long before his coaching days.

Munchak, who is in his third year as the Steelers offensive line coach, was a Hall of Fame guard for the Houston Oilers, where he played for 12 seasons. He was a team player, unselfish, always working toward one goal.

He has taken the same approach he had as a player and made it work in his coaching role. 

“He wasn’t big on all the bravado or sound bites when he played,” said Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, a teammate of his with the Oilers. “He is a guy players respect because they knew what he accomplished as a player, and as a coach. He has credibility. He did it as a player and developed a lot of talent offensive line wise. He has a simple message about hard work, integrity, and being a great teammate that resonates with players nowadays.

“The thing you notice with Munch is it’s not about him. It’s about the team, the guys he is coaching and making them better. Guys appreciate that. There are a lot of guys that have agendas playing in the league right now. You wonder how much it is about the players and the team. With Munch, it’s apparent from day one that he is all about making you the best player you can be. That is all you can ask for as a coach. I think he is going to be an outstanding head coach when someone wises up and gives him another opportunity.”

Munchak’s approach, his work ethic, all of that came from his father, Michael Munchak.   

“The work ethic started with my dad, watching how he worked his whole life as a truck driver,” said Munchak. “He set the standard for me. For whatever you do, work hard, do your best, you can’t control everything that is going to happen, but you will do your best.

“I take that same approach with the Steelers and my guys. I have the same expectations for them as I had for myself. I try to push them to be their best. That is what I enjoy the best is watching these guys develop with the Steelers. I want to pass that on to other players as I go forward. When you have the guys I have, (David) DeCastro, Ramon (Foster), (Maurkice) Pouncey, they are leaders, coaches for me. When you have guys set the standard the way they do, the way they work and want to win a championship. It makes my involvement easer. I just get to steer the ship, guide them and help them and encourage and challenge them. As I push them to get better, they help me push the young guys.”

From the sounds of things, from hearing from others, Munchak definitely isn’t taking the credit he deserves.

“Coaching is something he had a passion for,” said Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon who Munchak protected during their time with the Oilers. “He has a great temperament, he isn’t going to get too high or too low. He is a great teacher. That is what you need as an offensive line coach, you need to be a great teacher. You are teaching a lot of young guys how to play the positon.

“It made me feel very secure having a guy like Mike next to me at left guard, knowing that he was going to be a cornerstone for me my whole career. It’s just a security blanket knowing you have a guy that works as hard as he does, that pays attention to detail, and is a perfectionist. Because of the way he plays, he was a natural born leader because of the way he prepared.”