Catching Up with Former Steelers QB Bubby Brister | Steelers Now (2024)

Devlin Hodges’ successful NFL debut on Sunday night has many people remembering another former Steelers quarterback that grew up in the south and played at the FCS (then Division I-AA level).

Bubby Brister was also the only other Steelers quarterback to wear the No. 6. The Louisiana native was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 1986 NFL Draft and spent seven seasons in Pittsburgh before winning two Super Bowls as a backup with the Denver Broncos.

Our Ron Lippock caught up with Brister to talk about his time in Pittsburgh and look back on his NFL career.

First, I know you have your hands in so many things since you retired. Tell me a bit about from the three-hundred foot level on what you’e been working on that you want readers to know about?

When I was out of football I moved from Denver to Southern Louisiana and have been there since 2002. I’ve been in the oil and gas business – I started by working for a man named Bill Jenkins.

I’m now at Troy Construction in Houston in the pipeline industry. It was hard to leave Bill but it was a career move to work at one of the best pipeline construction companies. I’ve been blessed to work for some great people and organizations – the Steelers, Broncos and Bill Jenkins. In Pittsburgh I met a lot of great people and a lot of them helped me to make this transition.

Tell me about that transition. How hard was that for you?

I was blessed to make that transition out of football. I also worked part-time when I first left with Tim Anderson working at hunting conventions. I hunt and fish all the time and Tim helped me make that part of my career transition. He and Scott Wilson were big out of the gate for me. I did a lot of work with them – I’m a big Mossy Oak guy!

The NFL now has programs to help when players start planning for that transition. But it was tough for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at first. Few players know what they want to do. I did work for a few weeks at Fox SportsNet but Bob Griese and Coach Shanahan were still there. I played for and with them and I didn’t feel comfortable talking about those guys and who was to blame when something bad happened. I also just didn’t want to talk about football any more.

I went full circle – back to the woods. I felt my way through until I found the right fit then met Bill Jenkins. He taught me the oil and gas business and I’ve been in that now a long time.

Looking back on it, when you were drafted by the Steelers, were you surprised?

Not really. Tom Moore came down to visit me and I could tell he was interested. I had a great workout and we had a great relationship. But during the draft the Rams owner called me and said they wanted to take me with their second round pick. I was excited that I could go in the second round. But they were trying to trade for Jack Kemp from San Francisco and it didn’t work out, so they said they’d take me in the third round. But Pittsburgh picked me first.

I was elated. My uncle was a coach at Louisiana Tech when Bradshaw played there. I couldn’t have gotten drafted by a better organization.

Did anyone help mentor you when you got there?

I was the one to mentor other guys like O’Donnell and Culpepper. I didn’t have that person. Malone was the starter but they let him go so I didn’t have that player. I ended up having to start as a rookie on Monday Night Football. I was a nervous wreck!

Tom Moore helped me a lot. And then Merril Hoge got there and he and I became good friends. We climbed the ladder of the ups and downs and still talk every week. His son is a quarterback now too.

You were also an accomplished baseball player. Why Choose football?

Baseball was my first sport actually. I was drafted by the Tigers. I gave up my scholarship at Alabama after I was signed by Bear Bryant to play baseball. I got to the pros but they wouldn’t let me pitch. I was a good athlete but everyone is a good athlete in high school. The last guy I spoke to about pitching was Jim Leyland. I told him I would leave and go back to school if I couldn’t pitch. He told me they drafted me as an every day player, so I left.

And guess what? Four years later I ran into some guy in the locker room in Pittsburgh. It was Jim Leyland. He asked who I was and we laughed. I could play quarterback for the Steelers but couldn’t pitch for the Tigers!

I’ve had eight surgeries from football and a number of concussions but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Was it frustrating for you hearing the comparisons between you and Bradshaw, both being Louisiana quarterbacks?

Not as frustrating as it was for Mark Malone. It was tough because it was a team in transition. The organization was getting rid of the guys that won those Super Bowls. And they were trying to get the salary cap down.

They were still trying to field a team with the best players they could find, but it was tough. A lot of young guys trying to play. And the AFC Central had the Bengals who were in the Super Bowl, Cleveland who was one fumble away from one, and Houston who was tough as nails. If we won eight or nine games we were happy. And I was also one quarterback removed from Terry Bradshaw too, so that didn’t help.

How competitive were the quarterbacks with one another, and was it frustrating vying for playing time?

Mark was frustrated because he was injured and then I got drafted. Then I blew my knee out and Neil O’Donnell came in.

John Stallworth, who caught my first pass, told me something I always think about. He said “Bubby, it’s not the matter of how long until or when you get cut, just how long you can postpone it.”

I thought about that. I looked up to John, Even as a backup I wanted to enjoy it. My knee was better but it wasn’t in the cards by then. Neil and I became friends. When I went to Minnesota Dante Culpepper and I were close – I was more like a coach than a teammate.

I actually talked to Mark Malone before the Denver playoff game some years ago. We had a great conversation – he always liked Arizona. I told him I would call him sometime – it was a shame we didn’t get time together in Pittsburgh. It happened so fast. It would have been better if I had two-to-three years to learn and transition.

How was your relationship with Chuck Noll?

I felt closer to Chuck than most people. Tom Moore helped. He would always tell me to go talk to Chuck if I had a problem. Chuck was very private and I was always intimidated by him. But I walked into his office and that made a big difference.

What did he tell you?

I asked him what it would take for me to become the starting quarterback of the Steelers. He told me what he needed me to do and what he expected. That helped me to know what to do. Most players work on what they are best at, but that doesn’t help you correct the issues. He told me he wanted me to work on reading coverages better.

We had an OK relationship and I credit Tom Moore for everything from drafting me to helping me grow up

Any fun stories of your time in Pittsburgh?

In Pittsburgh there was no joking around then. In Denver we joked around because we were winning, but in Pittsburgh there was no time for joking.

I do remember offensive lineman Brian Blankenship – he was our long snapper, and I was the holder sometimes. Before games he would make bets with the other team during warmups that he could, while on one knee, throw the ball over the goalposts from the fifty yard line. He was a 6’2″, 315 pound lineman. It was always funny seeing him gambling with the other teams’ players trying to make some money. And he was always able to do it. It was really sixty yards because of the endzone.

Did you hunt a lot in Pittsburgh? I remember talking to Merril Hoge and he saying he didn’t like to hunt in Pittsburgh.

I didn’t hunt a lot then. I lived on a twenty-acre lot near North Park too – deer everywhere. I don’t know why. I guess we just didn’t have the time except in the offseason. We were just trying to get better every week. It was very taxing. No time to hunt. When I was backing up John in Denver I’d get the occasional day off and could hunt sometimes then. But when you’re playing .500 ball it’s tough.

How hard was it for you when you left in 1992?

It was hard, but I knew it was time. When Cowher came in he wanted his own people. I got that. I felt it was time. But it was tough…I was with those guys for seven years, I thought they were getting to the point where they were starting to win more. But every time you go to different teams it’s tough. That’s the NFL I’m just happy I was there for as long as I was.

Lastly. What advice would you give a young quarterback entering the NFL today?

Outwork the other guy. Every day you need to work harder and you can play better and not get hurt as much. It’s not your job. It’s not anyone’s job. It’s the Chuck Noll deal. The recipe works. Outwork the other guy and yon play better and you have a better chance to stay healthy.

Catching Up with Former Steelers QB Bubby Brister | Steelers Now (2024)

FAQs

What is Bubby Brister doing now? ›

About. A Louisiana native and former NFL quarterback has been named Director of Business Development at Evers & Sons Inc. Bubby Brister attended University of Louisiana at Monroe prior to being drafted in the third round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Who are the Steelers picking up for QB? ›

Nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson and promising 2021 first-round draft choice Justin Fields were now the Steelers' quarterbacks.

Who will be the Steelers QB in 2024? ›

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't just add competition for Kenny Pickett in the 2024 offseason. They full-on replaced Pickett with not one but two veteran quarterbacks, signing Russell Wilson before acquiring Justin Fields via trade.

What happened to Kenny Pickett Steelers? ›

Steelers trade Kenny Pickett to the Eagles after signing Russell Wilson, sources tell the AP. PITTSBURGH (AP) — The brief and tumultuous Kenny Pickett era in Pittsburgh is over. The Steelers are trading the quarterback to the Philadelphia Eagles, multiple sources told The Associated Press.

Where does Bubby Brister live? ›

In 2003, Brister became the co-host of a hunting and fishing oriented show called Louisiana Outdoor Adventures on The Outdoor Channel. In 2005, he joined the staff of Hunter's Specialties, a producer of hunting and fishing adventure videos. Brister lives in Mandeville, Louisiana, with his wife and two children.

How long did Bubby Brister play in the NFL? ›

Bubby Brister played 14 seasons for 5 teams, including the Steelers and Broncos. He threw for 14,445 yards and 81 touchdowns. He won 2 championships.

Who is the third string quarterback for the Steelers? ›

The #Steelers have agreed to terms with QB Kyle Allen and DL Dean Lowry, per GM Omar Khan. Allen backed up Josh Allen in Buffalo last season. Prior to that, he spent 2022 with the Houston Texans. Allen was signed by the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2018 out of Texas A&M.

Who is the Pittsburgh Third String quarterback? ›

Mason Rudolph (American football)

How much are Steelers paying Justin Field? ›

Harris and Fields will enter the final season of their contracts. Harris will earn $2.439 million in base salary this year, and Fields will earn $1.6 million in the deal he signed when he was selected by the Bears with the No. 11 overall pick that year.

What two quarterbacks did Pittsburgh pick up? ›

Pittsburgh's QB room is now Wilson and Fields. They typically carry three quarterbacks on their roster during the season, and have said throughout the offseason that they plan to again this year. Fields is 10-28 all-time as a starter, throwing for 6,674 yards and 40 touchdowns, while also throwing 30 interceptions.

Will the Steelers get Justin Field? ›

On Saturday, the Steelers acquired quarterback and former first-round pick Justin Fields from the Bears for a 2025 sixth-round pick, less than two years after Pittsburgh traded Chase Claypool to Chicago in exchange for a pick the Steelers ultimately used to draft cornerback Joey Porter Jr.

What picks do the Steelers have in 2024? ›

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL draft picks: Zach Frazier an immediate starter?
  • Round 1, No. 20: Troy Fautanu, T, Washington.
  • Round 2, No. 51: Zach Frazier, C, West Virginia.
  • Round 3, No. 84: Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan.
  • Round 3, No. 98 (from Philadelphia): Payton Wilson, LB, NC State.
  • Round 6: No.
Apr 27, 2024

What is Kenny Pickett salary for the Steelers? ›

Kenny Pickett signed a 4 Years, $14,067,905 contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on June 23, 2022. The contract runs through the 2027 season and has an average annual value of $3,516,976. It also came with a $7,411,204 signing bonus and $14,067,905 guaranteed.

How much does Kenny Pickett make? ›

Pickett is on year three of his rookie contract. In 2024, Pickett will earn $985,000 in base salary and a roster bonus of $998,900, with a cap hit of $1,983,900, according to Spotrac. Pickett has one more year on his current deal plus a potential fifth-year option.

How much are the Eagles paying Kenny Pickett? ›

Under Pickett's current contract, his cap number for 2024 is $1.98 million and $2.62 million for 2025.

When did Bubby Brister retire? ›

Bubby Brister played 15 NFL seasons with the Steelers, Eagles, Jets, Broncos and Vikings, retiring in 2001.

What college did Bubby Brister go to? ›

Prior to playing football in college he was drafted to play baseball out of high school by the Detroit Tigers. He played one season for the minor league Bristol Tigers before playing quarterback for Tulane and Northeast Louisiana and was taken in the third round in the 1986 NFL Draft.

Where did Bubby Brister go to college? ›

Bubby Brister is a native of Alexandria, Louisiana and played his college ball at Tulane University. Prior to joining the Tulane Green Wave on the football field he was selected in the fourth round of the 1981 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers and played 39 games in the minors.

Where did Charlie Brewer go? ›

Brewer went on to play solo seasons at the University of Utah (2021) and Liberty University (2022).

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