By Teresa Varley
Most of Ken Anderson’s time in the NFL was spent trying to figure out ways to beat the Steelers, whether it be during his 16 seasons playing quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, or while he was a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Bengals for 10 years, and quarterbacks and receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Over the last three years, though, Anderson changed his stripes as he served as the Steelers quarterbacks coach until he retired from the coaching ranks on Tuesday morning.
“The decision came this morning,” Anderson told Steelers.com. “I wanted to talk to Mr. (Dan) Rooney before he left to go back to Ireland. I wanted to talk to Coach (Mike) Tomlin about it. Charlie (Batch) came in and I talked to him. I think they knew I was leaning towards this.”
Anderson leaves following a season where quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his best year statistically, throwing for 4,328 yards, but just felt the time was right to call it a day.
“I have been doing it for a long time,” said Anderson. “You try to make a decision that is best for you and your family. You weigh pros and cons. You go through a lot. At the end of the day it just comes down to I am ready for it.”
Second-year quarterback Dennis Dixon learned of Anderson’s retirement when he came to have his season-ending meeting with Tomlin.
“He is a great coach,” said Dixon. “For the two years I was here I learned a lot off of him, the small things, watching film with him and seeing how he breaks things down compared to me, trying to better myself in the long run. He helped a lot.”
Anderson said he is looking forward to spending some time relaxing, but with also dabble in some things, including some charitable efforts. But while he might be occupying his mind with other things, he knows he is going to miss the game, even some of the tough parts.
“Even as a player I liked training camp where you get away,” said Anderson. “It’s you and the players and two-a-day practices. I am going to miss practices here. One of the joys I had as a coach was putting the game plan together on Monday and Tuesday, which are the grind days, I enjoyed that process. I am going to miss a little bit of everything.
“Football is all I have known. It’s been 39 years of it. I think the tough thing is leaving this organization that has been so good to me. Getting to work with the Rooney family, Kevin Colbert, to be able to be associated with a head coach like Mike Tomlin who is the best to work for. Our offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has made my life great. Those are tough things. At the end of the day it comes down to you are ready.”
Anderson admits there are some things that he won’t miss, like road trips, staying in hotels and even some of the anxiety that comes pregame. And on Sunday afternoons in the fall, you can be sure he will be tuned in to what the black and gold are doing.
“My wife already said we have to get DirecTV to make sure we get all of the games,” said Anderson. “What a wonderful place Pittsburgh is. Three years ago when we came here the organization and city opened their arms to my wife and my family and made us feel so welcome. It was like we were meant to be here the whole time.
“I told Mr. Rooney I have a lot of black and gold in my veins and that isn’t going away. When I want to come back to a game and sit in the stands and root them on I hope they don’t forget who I am and help me out and get me a ticket.”
Anderson has a lifetime of memories from being in the NFL to take with him into retirement, but his time with the Steelers is something that he will treasure.
“More than anything what I am going to remember is just what the Steelers organization is about,” said Anderson. “What a classy place this is to work. What a unique place this is to work. I tell guys if you are in this business everybody ought to get a chance to work in Pittsburgh at some point in their career because it is a special place.”