Inside Conditions…Family Reunion

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Genome or genom  n: 1. (Genetics) the full complement of genetic material within an organism.  You may or may not have ever considered a scientific explanation for the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the past four decades but  I am convinced that their record of excellence has been at least partially due to the strong and consistent management, drafting and coaching concepts that were put in place and continue to be maintained.

If genetics is “the full complement of genetic material within an organism” then I feel very confident to assert that that the Pittsburgh Steelers have evolved to “utilize the full complement of all of the homegrown management talent required  to create and maintain a successful organization.”

Wednesday was not a normal over the hump day at the Pittsburgh Steelers training facility located  at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, PA.  It was the beginning of an extended work week of practices and scrimmages between the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What made the week more than just a cooperative effort between two NFL franchises was that Doug Whaley, a former scout and personnel evaluator for a decade for Pittsburgh, was now returning home as the General Manager of the Buffalo Bills.

Doug Whaley at Press Conference

Doug Whaley at Press Conference (Photo by Thomas Sabol)

On August 13, the first day of two joint practices scheduled at St. Vincent’s College between the two squads,  Mr. Whaley and many of the Steelers Nation “family” and friends gathered  to honor and remember Bill Nunn Jr., at the tent where the “Superscout” would sit and educate those who needed it.

There was a brass plate placed on a bench marking the place overlooking the practice fields where most of the time you would find Mr. Nunn.

Also marking the spot was a framed photo of Mr. Nunn and Doug Whaley. Whaley worked with him for a decade.  After the ceremony,  Mr. Whaley reflected on his relationship with Bill Nunn Jr.

“He was probably my second father,” he said.  “There are few people who are instrumental in my life as far as being here [as General Manager of the Bills] and he is one of them; along with my father, Charles Bailey and of course all of the people that have hired me.  Mr. Rooney, Buddy Nix and Russ Brandon but as a person and a man Bill Nunn was one of the three major influences that made me who I am.”

Doug Whaley also had other major social and educational influences that helped mold him as well.  He also went to school and lived in Upper. St. Clair, a place that 30 years ago that was for all intents and purposes not readily accessible to African Americans.

I asked him about Upper St. Clair being an “elite” environment and the experience of maturing there and  Mr. Whaley said that was just a part of his growth process,  “I guess you can say that it was elite, but it is what it is. I liked it because the people there were always striving to be the best at education, athletics whatever the case may be, and if you were not the best you were trying hard to be the best .

My father,( Robert Whaley Sr.) also influenced me as far as my work ethic is concerned because he owned a construction company[that specialized] in heavy highway drainage and sewage. Since I was growing up, that was a reminder that you had get up every day and put in the work in order to get results.”

Whaley also talked about some of the attributes that he looks when he considers hiring staff.

“I look for people that will answer the bell every day; people who aren’t afraid of hard work.”

Although still relatively young, Whaley also talked about what he would like his legacy to be.

“I would like to be remembered as a person by the players, my family, as well as anyone else out there as one who never tried to substitute anything for hard work. There are no shortcuts, hard work and smart work will get you where you need to go.”

When the Pittsburgh Steelers hired Bill Nunn Jr. to seek and evaluate the athletes that that would eventually play a central role in transforming them from losers to legends, they knew only of his keen eye for talent and his legendary work ethic.
When the Buffalo Bills hired Doug Whaley as their General Manager they had competed against the players that he had helped put on the field. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741
Follow him on Twitter @ultrascribe

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