Steelers wide receiver coach Darryl Drake dead at 62

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake died overnight, the team announced Sunday. He was 62.

“We are at a loss for words following Darryl Drake’s passing this morning,” Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement. “Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career. He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football. Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his three daughters, his grandchildren and entire family during this difficult time.”

Drake joined the Steelers in 2018 after long stints with the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals at the same position. His career also included stops at Western Kentucky, Georgia, Baylor and Texas before he moved to the pros.

The Kentucky native was born in Louisville and went on to play wide receiver for Western Kentucky from 1975-78. After three years playing on practice squads for the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins and the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Rough Riders, Drake returned to Western Kentucky in 1983 as a graduate assistant, working his way up the coaching ladder until the Chicago Bears hired him in 2004. He stayed in Chicago for eight years and was an assistant on the 2006 team that fell to Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI.

After five years with the Arizona Cardinals on Bruce Arians’ staff from 2013-2017, Drake moved to Pittsburgh to join the Steelers where he helped develop JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown into one the league’s top receiving groups.

“Darryl was a close friend and had a tremendous impact on my coaching career,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “He was an amazing husband, father and grandfather, and it is difficult to put into words the grief our entire team is going through right now. Darryl loved the game of football and every player he ever coached. We will use our faith to guide us and help his family throughout the difficult time. My heart and our prayers are with his wife, Sheila, and Darryl’s entire family.”

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Reactions to the death of Darryl Drake
We lost a great man, husband father, coach and a dear friend Darryl Drake. Our prayers go out to his family. RIP br… https://t.co/cQmVD3hlVR
I am at a loss for words during the sorrowful time. Darryl Drake was a great man who loved the game of football but… https://t.co/60i931BitK
RIP Coach Drake!! Praying For Your Family! We Gone Miss You! I remember the good times and the trash talk from the… https://t.co/TI9EerNs7h
Coach Drake, I love you brother. RIP
Just heard the news of Coach Drake. Unbelievable such good man and a true pioneer for African American coaches that… https://t.co/v7OW9opXQi
Shared a lot of genuine laughs with this man over my career. We lost a great one. You are missed Darryl Drake… https://t.co/u1BjF9fffc
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Blake Schuster is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at blakeschuster@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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