Updated: Jan 23, 2022
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
After seven seasons as the Steelers defensive coordinator and 19 seasons with the organization, Keith Butler informed to the team on Saturday that he's retiring.
Butler, 65, started his career with the Steelers in 2003 as a linebackers coach, a title that he held until 2014. In 2015, Butler was promoted and replaced longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
The news of Butler retiring doesn't come as a surprise, as there were rumblings in the media that Butler would be done after 2021. And then on Tuesday during his season-ending press conference, Mike Tomlin admitted that Butler has talked about calling it a career.
“Buts has had conversations about (2021) being potentially his last year, he and I hadn’t had an opportunity to sit down,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin and Butler go way back, as they were on the same coaching staff at Arkansas State and Memphis in the 1990s. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Butler was considering retirement last year but Tomlin asked him for one more go-round so he returned. Butler says he plans to play lots of golf and watch grandchildren play sports. Butler also told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he stayed the extra year because Ben Roethlisberger stayed and he thought they had chance to win a Super Bowl or at least get into a Super Bowl.
“It is an emotional day as I announce I am retiring from my football coaching career,” Butler said in a statement. “I have spent every year since 1990 as a coach in the NFL and the NCAA, but the time is right for me to walk away after a successful career both playing and coaching the game I love.
“I want to thank the Rooney Family, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin and all the coaches and players that I have been involved with over my entire coaching career. I look forward to spending more time with my family, whom have been so supportive of me throughout the years. I wish nothing but the best to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I will be cheering them on during my retirement.”
It will be interesting to see if Tomlin looks outside the organization to replace Butler, but there's been some speculation that senior defensive assistant and secondary coach Teryl Austin will get promoted to defensive coordinator. Austin had stints with the Lions (2014-2017) and Bengals (2018) as a defensive coordinator.