Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Kordell Stewart was one of the most dynamic players during his era with the ability to play quarterback, wide receiver and running back. Stewart's skillsets were uncommon for the 1990s and he was the precursor for the next decade when Michael Vick emerged onto the national scene. Now in 2020, it's customary to see dual-threat quarterbacks with the likes of Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson as some of the premier players at the position in the league.
Earlier this month, Stewart spoke with Justin Guerriero of CUSportsNation.com — a website that covers his alma mater, the University of Colorado, about his time with the Steelers.
"There’s nothing to put my head down about, and not reminiscing but calling it what it is — it was a great run, a great opportunity, I had a tremendous amount of success, but also some failures," Stewart said on his career as a Steeler.
Stewart had a tumultuous career in Pittsburgh, as he was loved at times and on other occasions, he was heavily criticized. Some of the flak was justified and some of it was not.
Through the ups and downs, Stewart was still a fan favorite among some fans for his unique style of play and entertainment that he brought to the game.
"That’s what makes the successes so much more special, is when you can bounce back," Stewart said. "If I had to do it again, I’d do it the same exact way. That’s how much fun it was and that’s how much excitement there was."
Stewart's best years with the Steelers came in 1997 and 2001, where he led Pittsburgh to an 11-5 and 13-3 season and the AFC Championship Game. In 1997, Stewart had a career-high 21 touchdown passes and 11 rushing touchdowns. In 2001, he was named to the Pro Bowl and earned AFC Offensive Player of the Year honors, along with winning team MVP.
The big failure came in the AFC Championship Game against Denver in 1997 and New England in 2001, with both losses happening in Pittsburgh. Stewart against the Broncos was 18 of 36 (50%) for 201 yards, one touchdown pass and three interceptions, a quarterback rating of 41.6. Stewart also fumbled when getting sacked and Denver recovered. So, in total, Stewart turned the ball over four times. Despite the bad quarterback play, the Broncos beat the Steelers by just three points, 24-21. Against the Patriots, Stewart was 24 of 42 (57.14%) for 255 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions, a quarterback rating of 45.2. The Patriots beat the Steelers 24-17, thanks to two special teams touchdowns, one via a punt return and the other came on a blocked field goal.
The Broncos and Patriots would both go on to win the Super Bowl in those respective years. In 1997 and 2001, both Steelers' teams were highly talented on both sides of the ball and many in Pittsburgh felt that they were good enough to win the Super Bowl.
"I always look back on (my years with the Steelers) and think, 'dang, we got so close,’ but we never got a chance to win the big one (Super Bowl)," Stewart said. But it was a lot of fun. I wish I would have stayed (in Pittsburgh) a little bit longer — I wanted to retire a Steeler and I didn’t want to go anywhere else, but obviously it’s a business and a multitude of other things take their course and cause you to go separate ways."
Despite Stewart coming up short in AFC Championship Games and never winning a Super Bowl, he still keeps in relatively close contact with the organization and Bill Cowher.
"When I was in Baltimore, when (the Steelers) beat the Ravens (in 2005) and went to the Super Bowl, I went over to shake (Cowher's) hand and told him congratulations," Stewart said. "I also texted him once he got inducted into the Hall of Fame. We’ve stayed in touch along those lines and every time I see him, I treat him with respect, knowing that the opportunity he gave me was a great one."
You can read Guerriero's interview with Stewart in its entirety in the link below.