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Bill Cowher Retells How He Pushed Mike Vrabel to Leave Steelers



Titans Steelers Playoff HC Mike Vrabel

Mike Vrabel might be known more for his career with the New England Patriots and tenure as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, but before all that, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him. Under Bill Cowher, Vrabel worked as a rotational player but never elevated his snaps to starter status.

When he was set to hit free agency, Cowher, as the head coach, told him they would offer him a contract, but he might be able to get more money and playing time elsewhere. That opportunity would come with the Patriots, where he would carve out a productive career with the team.

“I’ll never forget, Mike Vrabel came in after four years, and I said, ‘Mike, listen, we’re going to offer you a contract,’ but he goes, ‘Well, [if] I can get a lot more. I go.’ ‘You’re probably gonna get a lot more somewhere else,’ I said. ‘I’Il play you, but you’re probably the third outside linebacker on our team right now.’ He went to New England and had a great career,” Cowher said on the Steam Room podcast.

By the end of his career, Vrabel would become a first-team All-Pro in 2007 and a three-time Super Bowl Champion in New England at the beginning of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era. He would also parlay that time away from the Steelers into a head coaching career. Vrabel rose through the ranks quickly but was let go by the Titans following the 2023 season. He has interviewed for two jobs so far as he tries to find another gig.

With the Steelers from 1997 to 2000, the moment he would be remembered for the most was his strip-sack of Drew Bledsoe in his rookie season. In his first year in New England, he started 12 games, which was more than he started in four years in Pittsburgh, and his role would only continue to be more significant as he spent time with New England.