If you ever had a moment of doubt that the NFL stands for “Not for Long,” we present to you James Saxon.
Who is James Saxon, you may ask? Saxon was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running backs coach for the last five years.
Key word: was.
Steelers won’t renew Saxon’s contact
On Monday afternoon, the Steelers announced that Saxon would not be returning to the team.
In a statement on the team website, coach Mike Tomlin said, “I have made the decision to not renew the contract for running backs coach James Saxon. We would like to thank James for his efforts over the past five years, and we wish him the best in his future coaching endeavors.”
A former fullback who spent eight seasons in the NFL as a player, Saxon joined the Steelers in 2014 after stints with the Vikings, Dolphins, Chiefs and Bills, all as running backs coach.
With Pittsburgh, Saxon mentored a Pro Bowler in four of five seasons. In 2014, ’16 and ’17, it was Le’Veon Bell (Bell was also first-team All-Pro in two of those years), and in 2018 it was James Conner.
Even in 2015, when Bell played in just six games, Saxon helped then-34-year-old back DeAngelo Williams to 907 rushing yards, and an NFL-best 11 rushing touchdowns.
Saxon isn’t alone
Saxon isn’t the only assistant coach Tomlin has decided won’t be back: last week it was outside linebackers coach Joey Porter.
After rumblings that perhaps Tomlin was on the hot seat after the Steelers’ last-season collapse — they were 7-2-1 on Nov. 19 and didn’t make the playoffs — perhaps the moves are a sign that he is feeling the heat, and doing what he can to protect his job.
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