Steelers Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler Makes Decision on Future

Keith Butler

Nick Cammett/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler looks on before a game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 31, 2021.

On Saturday January 22 Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler announced his retirement from the NFL in a statement issued by the team.

“It is an emotional day as I announce I am retiring from my football coaching career,” said the 65-year-old. “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.”

Butler went on to thank the Rooney Family, as well the Steelers head coaches for whom he worked, namely Bill Cowher and 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.”

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Keith Butler’s Two-Decade Run With the Steelers

Butler has been coaching for the Steelers since 2003, serving as linebackers coach from ’03 through 2014. In January 2015 he succeeded Dick LeBeau as Steelers defensive coordinator and remained in that role until today.

Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, Butler was the linebackers coach for the Cleveland Browns (1999-2002). Before that he worked in the college ranks, spending the first eight years of his coaching career at Memphis before one season as defensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 1998.

Most notably, he was a part of two Super Bowl winning teams while with the Steelers (Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII). Moreover, the Steelers led the NFL—or tied for the lead—in sacks for the last five years under Butler. Last season the Steelers set a new franchise record for most consecutive seasons with 50 or more sacks (four).

In 2020 the Steelers also set a new NFL record with a streak of 70 games with at least one sack, breaking the mark set by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers between 1999 and 2003. The team extended the record to 75 games before the streak was snapped on September 26, 2021, when the Steelers were held without a sack in a 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field.

According to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson, the Steelers are expected to promote senior defensive assistant and secondary coach Teryl Austin into the role vacated by Butler.

Prior to Coaching, Butler Had a Long Playing Career

Butler entered the NFL in 1978 as a second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks following an All-American season at Memphis in 1977. He played right inside linebacker for the Seahawks through the 1987 season, appearing in 146 career games with 132 starts. According to Pro Football Reference, he recorded eight interceptions and 11.5 sacks during the course of his career.

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