The gathering at the NFL’s Scouting Combine this week in Indianapolis will include a reunion of sorts, as it always does.
Scouts and player personnel men from Western Pennsylvania have a special bond and there are quite a few of them. You’ve heard of coaching trees? Bill Walsh had one, Chuck Noll had one, Don Shula had one — head coaches who spawned other head coaches.
This then would be a scouting tree, with Art Rooney Jr., Dan Rooney’s brother, the head of it. He was the Steelers’ player personnel chief in the 1960s through the first half of the 1980s, famously helping to build their dynasty of the ‘70s through the draft. He had a summer program during that time that led to the development of many NFL scouts, player personnel executives and general managers throughout the NFL from Western Pennsylvania.
“It all traces back to Art Rooney Jr.,” said Kevin Colbert, the Steelers general manager.
Rooney (North Catholic High School), employed local high school coaches in the summer to grade NFL players from other teams on film for the Steelers. Based on their reports, he often would recommend the best of them to Jack Butler, the Steelers Hall of Fame cornerback who ran the Blesto scouting service out of his native Pittsburgh.
Butler hired some to work for Blesto as scouts and many went on to join other NFL teams as scouts, some rising to higher positions with teams.
“Once you started getting guys in the business, that would…