Smith-Schuster, Fitzgerald honor receivers coach Darryl Drake, who died suddenly last week

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are still processing the loss of receivers coach Darryl Drake, who died suddenly on Aug. 10.

The 62-year-old Drake died at Saint Vincent College, where the Steelers were staying for training camp.

The players he impacted are paying him tribute.

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‘Shut out the noise’

Current and former pupils of longtime NFL receivers coach Darryl Drake, who died suddenly on Aug. 10, have been remembering his impact. (AP)
Current and former pupils of longtime NFL receivers coach Darryl Drake, who died suddenly on Aug. 10, have been remembering his impact. (AP)

On Wednesday, JuJu Smith-Schuster met with media wearing two new wristbands.

One read, “Shut out the noise.” The other, “Never choose good when great is available.”

Both were sayings Drake used often with his charges.

“Never choose good ... ” was the last thing Drake said to players, Smith-Schuster said.

Drake was beginning his second season as Pittsburgh’s receivers coach.

In his first season with Drake in 2018, Smith-Schuster was a Pro Bowler and voted as the Steelers’ MVP after a 111-catch, 1,426-yard, seven-touchdown year.

He told reporters he didn’t feel comfortable talking about Drake until Wednesday.

“He’ll always be in memory,” Smith-Schuster said, “not only of this team but in my heart and everybody he touched.”

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Before the Steelers’ preseason game with the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Donte Moncrief got the receivers sweatshirts with “Shut out the noise” printed on them, and after the game, rookie Dionte Johnson said he’s dedicating every touchdown he scores this season to Drake.

Drake lobbied for the Steelers to draft Johnson with the 66th pick earlier this year.

‘He challenged you to be a better man’

Drake’s funeral was last weekend in Tennessee.

Before joining the Steelers in 2018, he had coached receivers with the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012, and with the Arizona Cardinals from 2012-2017.

Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald left camp to attend the funeral and spoke at the service.

“Coaching on the football field, he was obviously great,” Fitzgerald told USA Today’s Jarrett Bell. “But the lasting impact comes with how he challenged you to be a better man, a better father, a better partner in your relationship, how to treat people.

“The way he treated his wife, his daughters, his granddaughters; he was a living testament for how to do it the right way as a human being. I don’t like to focus on the football aspect. We all have jobs. But he really implanted a lot of those principles to his players. I’ll remember him for those lessons. Those will be the things that really will stick with me 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now when I’m thinking about him.”

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