Former Steelers RB: It Was ‘Awesome’ To Be Head Coach


Sean Brady/NFLPhotoLibrary Duce Staley running the ball for the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game at Heinz Field in 2005.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running Duce Staley is back to his regular job as assistant head coach and running backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. But he recently had the opportunity to serve as temporary head coach of the Eagles for ten days while Doug Pederson was sidelined with COVID-19. In a word, he said the experience was “awesome.”

“First of all, it was awesome just being able to be in that role, [for] the organization [to] look at me and trust me to be in that role to lead the team,” Staley said during a media session on Wednesday, as related by Pro Football Talk. “I just took it one day at a time, continuing to deliver Doug’s message and continuing to meet with the team,” noted that he communicated with Pederson virtually so he could deliver or amplify Pederson’s messaging, though it was Staley who presided over practices out on the practice field.

“I took a lot from it. I tell you, it was exciting for me because of course, playing here in this great city and coming back coaching and being able to be the head coach for those 10 days was just awesome. I can’t say enough about it,” added Staley. “I learned the three L’s, and the three L’s are listen, learn and lead.”

Of course, Staley’s experience isn’t likely to remain unique among NFL assistant coaches this season, with Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton also having contracted COVID-19 to date.

“Just being able to step in—and one of the things we talk about as coaches, and you guys have seen it with players, of course, over the last couple years when one of our star players go down, it’s the next-man-up mentality as players,” concluded Staley.

Duce Staley Came to the Steelers as a Free Agent

Duce Staley, 45, was a third-round draft pick of the Eagles in 1997 out of the University of South Carolina. He went on to play for the Eagles for seven years before spending his final three NFL seasons in Pittsburgh, appearing in a total of 16 games for the Steelers. His best season in Pittsburgh came in 2004 when he started ten games, rushing for 830 yards and one touchdown.

He had three thousand yard rushing seasons as a member of the Eagles, including a career-high 1,273 yards in 1999.

Duce Staley’s Coaching Career

Staley started his coaching career as a coaching intern with the Eagles in 2010, then worked as a special teams quality control coach for two seasons before being promoted to running backs coach in 2013. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 2018, suggesting that he will be a prime candidate for a head coaching job as opportunities arise.

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