Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would sever his manhood in order to raise another Lombardi. He’s even said so. While best recognized as the stalwart linebacker on three title-winning teams in New England, it was actually the Steel City where Vrabel launched his playing career in 1997. A third-round draft choice by way of Ohio State, he improved his craft beside Pro Bowlers Greg Lloyd, Jason Gildon, and Levon Kirkland.
Vrabel logged 56 tackles, 7 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in the 51 games he played as a Steeler, and, initially, he was no protagonist in the Greater Boston area. As a rookie, in the final minute of the AFC divisional playoff, he sacked and extracted the football from Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, icing a one-point Pittsburgh victory.
He packed his suitcases following the 2000 season and departed for Foxborough. No longer an understudy edge defender, Vrabel was deployed in a more versatile role under Bill Belichick. In fact, it was Bledsoe that advised former Pats assistant coach Charlie Weis to let Vrabel try his hand at catching passes.
With New England, Vrabel reeled in ten scores, all from Tom Brady. In the waning minutes of Super Bowl XXXVIII, against Carolina, he grabbed a one-yard, go-ahead touchdown. The next season, facing Philadelphia in Super Bowl XXXIX, Vrabel found the endzone once again.
In his 14-year career, including two final seasons in Kansas City, Vrabel played 206 regular-season games, tallied 762 tackles, and sacked the quarterback 57 times.