Steelers WRs coach Drake dies suddenly at 62

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake died suddenly at age 62 on Sunday, the team announced.

The team did not disclose a cause of death. The Steelers canceled their training camp practices on Sunday and Monday.

“We are at a loss for words following Darryl Drake’s passing this morning. 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,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his three daughters, his grandchildren and entire family during this difficult time.”

Darryl Drake was entering his second season as the wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire

Drake’s coaching career spanned nearly four decades, starting as a Western Kentucky graduate assistant in 1983 before working his way into the NFL ranks. Drake was entering his second season as the Steelers’ wide receivers coach after being hired in January 2018. He was an assistant coach for 16 years in the NFL, also serving as wide receivers coach for the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals.

Today we mourn the untimely passing of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake. Darryl was the former Bears wide receivers coach under Lovie Smith from 2004-12, including the 2006 Super Bowl appearance.

— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 11, 2019

Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Darryl Drake. It is impossible to overstate his impact on the game in nearly four decades as a coach in college and the NFL.

Today, the entire football community mourns his loss.

— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 11, 2019

I’m heartbroken for anyone who had the privilege to know Darryl. As a man, a coach, a husband, and a father, he was as good as they come.

— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) August 11, 2019

Former Bears linebacker Lance Briggs added on Instagram: “Shared a lot of genuine laughs with this man over my career. We lost a great one. You are missed Darryl Drake.”

Drake was well-liked throughout the Steelers organization for his bright personality, football acumen and caring nature. During practices, everyone from his receivers to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would constantly chat him up on the sidelines or between drills. Drake was known for his colorful one-liners during practices, often telling his players “don’t drag the toe, click it” during sideline-catch work.

Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster posted 100-catch seasons in Drake’s first and only full season in Pittsburgh.

Smith-Schuster tweeted that “Coach Drake was honestly my favorite coach that I’ve ever had in this game.”

Rest In Peace Coach Drake

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) August 11, 2019

“Darryl was a close friend and had a tremendous impact on my coaching career,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “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.”

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