Former Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Tennessee Titans, but that does not change his feelings about Pittsburgh and the organization.
Dupree took to The Players’ Tribune Wednesday, penning a farewell essay to the Steelers faithful, coaches and teammates.
“This is for Steelers fans. The hard-core, ride-or-die fans,” Dupree said. “The people who know all about Renegade. The ones who have experienced those goose bumps — either in person at Heinz or on YouTube — and who know exactly what that moment can do for a team, a crowd, for an entire city, really.”
Dupree admits that he was unfamiliar with Pittsburgh when the organization drafted him in 2015, but learned quickly what the city and franchise were all about.
“When I look back on my time in Pittsburgh, the crazy thing to me is that, early on, when I first got drafted, I didn’t know anything about this town,” he said. “Growing up in Georgia, and going to school in Kentucky, I was clueless about Pittsburgh. I knew about the legends who played there — Jerome (Bettis), Hines Ward, and I obviously knew about Ben (Roethlisberger) — but beyond that it was like, ‘Pittsburgh? Where’s Pittsburgh?’”
For Dupree, it was franchise lifers like defensive end Cam Heyward and former cornerback William Gay that ingratiated him in the Steelers Way.
“Before long, I had guys like Cam Heyward and Will Gay and James Harrison and Coach (Joey) Porter pull me aside and break it down for me,” he said. “It was all about working hard and doing things that basically reflected the city, and the people of Pittsburgh. It wasn’t anything super complicated or some secret strategy. It was just basically…. Pittsburgh.”
Dupree also shared his appreciation for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who he described as a father figure.
“You want to talk about a truly great person. This is someone who is so much more than a coach. He’s a leader and a father figure for every guy in that locker room,” Dupree said. “I know words like that are thrown around a lot these days, but with Coach T, it’s really, really true. His thing is … he’s not just about football this and football that, he’s always sharing with us ways for us to be better men, better human beings. And he wants to know how our lives are going, how our kids are doing.”
Lastly, Dupree provided an update on his recovery process, while also sharing excitement to get his next chapter started in Nashville.
“My ACL rehab is going great. I’m already running on it, and I can feel the explosiveness coming back,” he said. “So I couldn’t be more excited to be out there ballin’ out with my new team.”
Selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Kentucky, Dupree tallied 231 combined tackles, 39.5 sacks, 54 tackles-for-loss, eight forced fumbles and a pick six over his six-year Steeler career.
Read Dupree’s full love letter to Pittsburgh and the Steelers below.