Former Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake dies at 62


Team president Art Rooney II confirmed Drake's death Sunday morning in a statement. He had previously served as wide receivers coach for the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals.

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin called Drake a "close friend" in a statement. Both his cause and manner of death are pending, said Ken Bacha of the Westmoreland County coroner's office.

"Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career", Rooney said. "He was an awesome husband, father and grandfather, and it is hard to put into words the grief our entire team is going through right now".

Drake was a highly respected coach whose football career spanned five decades, starting as a collegiate player for Western Kentucky University in 1975, before playing wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Cincinnati Bengals. "Any time you coach for 40 years, you impact a lot of lives", Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Sunday at Cards training camp in Glendale.

Drake spent 21 seasons coaching in college prior to entering the National Football League coaching ranks. "We will use our faith to guide us and help his family throughout the hard time".

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He went into coaching as a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky in 1983, the beginning of a career that included stops at Georgia, where he recruited and coached Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Hines Ward; Baylor and Texas. Drake's top two receivers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown, broke the franchise record for most combined receiving yards by a pair of teammates (2,273) in a single season.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his three daughters, his grandchildren and entire family during this hard time".

A number of current and former Cardinals players also took time to remember the late coach via social media Sunday.

"I saw the hours coaches put in and said no, that's not what I want to do", Drake said (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). When the Steelers head back to Saint Vincent College to continue camp, they will see a memorial for Drake that was made by several members of Steeler Nation on Sunday, a symbol of the impact he had on everyone associated with the franchise.