For the first time since the turn of the century, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in the market for a new head of personnel.
They found their replacement in house, hiring a key lieutenant of Kevin Colbert's in Omar Khan, who had been groomed to replace Colbert for years. Continuity was important to the Steelers, a club known for refusing to deviate from its tried and true principles. Khan intends to keep things very similar now that he's in charge.
"There's not going to be a lot of change here," Khan said during his introductory press conference Friday. "I obviously have a lot of ideas that I want to implement and put in place, but I don't see a lot of change."
Khan most recently served as the team's vice president of football and business administration, but he's held a variety of roles in Pittsburgh's front office since arriving just one year after Colbert, in 2001. Khan's chief responsibilities have centered around leading the Steelers' contract negotiations while managing the team's salary cap, two duties that will be essential as general manager. He's well-seasoned for a job that comes with tremendous expectation.
"Obviously, being in this role, responsibilities shift a little bit, but I'll have my hands on a lot of things that I've done before and, obviously, have my hands in other things," Khan said. "It'll be a smooth transition."
Colbert's departure came with plenty of advance warning, and he'll still be within reach for Khan if the new GM needs advice. Khan has already learned plenty from working alongside Colbert, and their familiarity made Pittsburgh's decision to shift Khan into the chair formerly occupied by Colbert an easy one.
"A couple things," Khan said when asked what Colbert taught him. "Number one, when Joe Greene speaks, you listen -- that's number one. Number two, and this goes way before Kevin, but we're always going to build this through the draft. I can't ever forget that and I won't. He was always big on that and that goes back to Art, Mr. Rooney and that's going to continue."
Khan will replace Colbert on the Steelers' well-known pro day circuit in another new pairing that Khan described as being a "smooth transition." Khan will also welcome a few additions to the front office, starting with Andy Weidl as the new assistant general manager, who was also formerly with the Philadelphia Eagles and in the running for the GM job before Pittsburgh chose Khan. The Steelers also announced on Friday the hiring of Sheldon White as director of pro scouting, and the promotion of Dan Colbert to director of college scouting.
They'll be in charge of guiding the Steelers into a new era following the retirement of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Colbert's parting gift to the Steelers was the first-round selection of local product Kenny Pickett, and now it's up to Khan to determine Pittsburgh's next steps. He's understandably optimistic as he takes his "dream job".
"The trajectory, I'm excited about it," Khan said. "The 90 guys we have in that locker room now, I'm really excited about the future and where I think we can go."