Kordell Stewart – Pittsburgh’s original ‘Offensive Weapon’
Earlier this season, Jaguars rookie Denard Robinson was officially listed as an ‘Offensive Weapon’ on the Jags roster. He has since been redesignated as a wide receiver after the NFL deemed the ‘OW’ tag inappropriate but, sitting at Wembley watching him perform, this left me thinking – who else could have merited the Offensive Weapon designation during their NFL career?
One player immediately sprang to mind. Ranked as the 6th most versatile player ever by NFL Network, Kordell Stewart really proved to be the archetypal triple threat guy during his career. Theoretically a Quarterback, the man nicknamed ‘Slash’ due to his versatility was equally likely to hurt teams with a run or a catch. Drafted 60th overall in the 1995 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the former University of Colorado QB lived up to his nickname during his time in Pittsburgh.
Initially deployed as a utility player, he spent his first few seasons in the league showcasing his athleticism in a limited role. However his rookie year saw him manage to thrown, run and catch a TD which can’t be sniffed at! More of the same followed in his second year, although he upped his rushing and receiving numbers in accounting for 8 TDs total (5 rushing, 3 receiving)
In 1997 Stewart graduated into the Steelers starting QB role, throwing for over 3000 yards and 21 TDs as he led the Steelers to a 11-5 record and a trip to the postseason. He still managed to produce 11 TDs on the ground at the same time, thus showing his versatility!
Performance then tailed off for ‘Slash’ and he averaged a QB rating of less than 70 in his next 3 years, although in 1999 he did managed a further 9 catches and 1 receiving TD. It wasn’t until 2001 that he had his best season for the Steelers, being voted to the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career after a 13-3 record and throwing for over 3000 yards again at a QB rating of 81.7.
This proved to be the high point of his career and after one more unsuccessful season he managed a further disappointing year with the Bears.
Overall Stewart’s career is a tale of talent that was never quite lived up to. Nearly 15000 yards and 77 TDs passing (with 84 picks at a rating of just over 70) tells a story of a man who ultimately did not quite cut it. Add in his 2874 rushing yards with 38 TDs and his 41 catches for 658 yards and 5 TDs and it is clear to see that he was a player who had the potential to succeed in multiple facets of the game. He even managed a few punts too!
Denard Robinson, like Kordell Stewart before him, has the potential to achieve great things in the game, be it as a multi-faceted ‘weapon’ or a player who specialises in an area suited to his talents. Hopefully as fans we get to see him ‘strut his stuff’ on the big stage for many years to come!