Former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart, who officially retired on Wednesday from the NFL, spent one season with the Chicago Bears when Todd Haley was their wide receivers coach.
Stewart, now an NFL analyst on ESPN, said he loved Haley’s passion for the game and the way he always looked out for the players.
“He was passionate. He was all about his players,” said Stewart. “He wanted to make sure his guys knew he was there for them and no one else. There was an altercation one game. We were playing Oakland at Soldier Field. We weren’t playing good that day, but we were playing good enough to win. One fan came from the stands to the railing and started running his mouth. All of a sudden Coach Haley came out of nowhere and gave the guy a piece of his mind. I said I don’t want to get you in trouble, but he said he shouldn’t be talking to you guys like that. If every coach had that kind of fight in him, I think a lot of teams would have more wins than losses.”
At the same time, though, Stewart said Haley is also tough on the players because he sees the potential in them and wants to bring it to the forefront.
“What you have here with Coach Haley is a guy who is going to be hard on you because he wants to get the best out of you,” said Stewart. “He won’t spoil you. He won’t make you feel good about yourself. He is going to make you work.”
“They have to work together,” said Stewart. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s going to take some time. With change there is going to be some unknown situations. You are going to be uncomfortable. With time it’s going to show how good it’s going to be. No one guy is bigger than the next is the mindset Coach Haley is bringing in here and that’s healthy for this team.”
Stewart also said he is impressed with the way Roethlisberger plays, and when asked if Haley can take him to another level, he thinks he is right where he needs to be.
“What level? Another Super Bowl?” asked Stewart back. “He won two and went to one and lost. This game is not easy. It’s a hard game to get up for every week and every year to win, let alone go to a Super Bowl. I think Ben is in a position where he needs to understand what is being implemented in the offense for it to work as well as Todd Haley understanding his personnel. It has to be a 50-50 thing. Ben going to another level, I think personally he is fine. He is probably the toughest quarterback in the league as far as playing with injuries, being able to elude the defenders and throwing the ball in an unorthodox position.
“The kid is where he needs to be. It’s just a matter of catching on to the system and keep doing what he has been doing and don’t worry about nothing else around him and just play the game.”