Kenny Pickett sabotaged his own career by ignoring Steelers quarterback history

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

After an unexpected fallout, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded quarterback Kenny Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles. There seems to be some divergence amongst fans or reporters as to whether a trade was inevitable. Be that as it may, one can't help but wonder if Kenny could have avoided his fate by studying the Steelers' History.

When the Steelers traded Pickett, it was a shock; most of us didn't know all the circumstances leading up to the trade. Then, some of the reasons for the trade began seeping out. He refused to dress an emergency back in a regular-season game late in the season. After receiving news that the Steelers signed Russell Wilson, Pickett supposedly asked to be traded; he canceled a workout with receivers.

The information reported indicated that Kenny Pickett appeared to be a bit self-centered and perhaps a crybaby over the situation. If so, he ignored his Steelers' history and certainly didn't understand what it meant to be a Steelers member, and lacked the makings of a team leader or a professional.

Stardom with the Steelers is earned, not bestowed

Regarding stardom in the NFL, and the Steelers specifically, greatness is something earned. Some players, such as Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, have learned that lesson the hard way, having lost opportunities to make the NFL Hall of Fame eventually. However, regarding quarterbacks, there was another valuable history lesson Kenny Pickett should have learned.

What is this lesson? There are two types of quarterbacks in the NFL. Some are just great. Ben Roethlisberger fell into that category, winning his first 15 regular-season games and becoming their quarterback for 18 seasons. Others have to earn their greatness. A perfect example is Terry Bradshaw.

While Bradshaw was the Steelers' first-round pick in 1970, he didn't have the same automatic success as Ben Roethlisberger. While he had flashes of greatness, he never seemed to put it all together. Then, in 1974, Chuck Noll had extra time to evaluate Joe Gilliam and made Gilliam the Starter when the 1974 season opened.

Unlike Kenny Pickett, Terry Bradshaw didn't whine and cry over it or refuse to dress; he accepted his role as a backup until called upon again. Granted, it took the first six games, and difficult questions still surround why Bradshaw was again elevated back to the starting position and admitting he didn't do anything specific to win the job back. Nevertheless, those are discussions for other articles. He did get his job back, only to be benched again in favor of Terry Hanratty.

It is plausible that Chuck Noll may have hurt Bradshaw's pride, and he might have been upset. However, if he was, he never let it show. He stayed ready if and when Chuck Noll needed him back. This time, Bradshaw's benching only lasted a week.

Still, whatever happened, Bradshaw and Noll had varying thoughts on that; it eventually led Bradshaw to become a team leader and pilot, taking the Steelers to their first Superbowl Championship.

How does this relate to Kenny Pickett?

The underlying point is that Kenny Pickett didn't understand he could have still become a great quarterback. Some quarterbacks mature at a different rate. In Bradshaw's case, Chuck Noll forced greatness out of Bradshaw through his actions as head coach.

Kenny Pickett, if he had used his time on the bench more efficiently to study what he was doing wrong, the Steelers signing Russell Wilson might not have been a death sentence for his career in Pittsburgh.

It may be an open question as to what Kenny could have achieved if he had taken the time to recover from his 2023 injury and taken some additional time under Wilson to see what he could learn and evaluate where he could improve; it's plausible he could have gotten one more shot. Wilson, after all, is only on a one-year contract.

However, Pickett just wanted someone to baby him and give him his starting job back when he should have concentrated on his performance, letting go of any fear, and being a team player. Something Terry Bradshaw learned in the nick of time.

While some may say Steelers brass were not truthful about whether the Steelers might trade Pickett, and possibly that was the plan all along? However, Kenny Pickett did not help his situation. He did more to sabotage his career with the Steelers rather than take the time to try to make himself a better quarterback, a better team leader, and a professional facing adversity.