Kordell Stewart could do anything for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his incredible playing abilities were a bit ahead of his time for the NFL to get a handle on.
Although Kordell Stewart has been best known as “Slash” since his days on offense for the Pittsburgh Steelers, how he was used back then remains a bit controversial.
In Gerry Dulac’s report for the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteStewart reflects on how his elite dual-threat playing abilities ultimately put him at odds with the Steelers organization.
“My hands and my abilities have become my nemesis,” Stewart said over the phone from his Atlanta home. “They have become my enemy. It was me against me. It wasn’t me against the opponent. It was me against my own organization. My ability was what it was, but it was to the point where it was, ‘Where do we put it best?’ In the minds of many at that time, it was not working. It makes you watch today’s game and makes you appreciate what was done back then.
Stewart had a howitzer out of Colorado in the 1995 NFL Draft. Although he was initially fourth on the Steelers’ quarterback depth chart, the franchise opted to use him as a wide receiver at the start just to get him into the field. To date, Stewart is the only player in NFL history to have 75 career touchdown passes, 35 rushing touchdowns and five touchdown receptions.
Had Stewart entered the league today, he would have been in the top five, just like Steve McNair came out of Alcorn State in the same 1995 NFL Draft.
So much has changed for the better when it comes to black quarterbacks, but fans missed what an unencumbered Stewart might have looked like in Pittsburgh.
Kordell Stewart felt at odds with the Pittsburgh Steelers organization during his career
Stewart may have been a Pro Bowler in 2001 at the height of his eight-year run with the Steelers. After his play regressed the following year, he was replaced first by Tommy Maddox and then permanently by Ben Roethlisberger beginning in 2004. Stewart spent 2003 playing quarterback for the Chicago Bears before serving as backup with the Baltimore Ravens before retiring in 2006.
Ultimately, Stewart’s success in the league paved the way for guys like Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson to be considered strictly quarterbacks at the pro level. Vick certainly had his detractors and it wasn’t always easy for Jackson. However, Stewart’s NFL career was a bridge between Randall Cunningham, Vick, Jackson, and then whoever would become the league’s next star.
Stewart’s Steelers run may have been tumultuous, but he had a big impact on the quarterback’s game.