Darren Perry of Green Bay Packers Aims to Beat Old Friends on Pittsburgh Steelers
Trouble is that Perry no longer wears black and gold. He resigned as Pittsburgh's defensive backs coach soon after Mike Tomlin became the Steelers' coach in 2007. After two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Perry headed to Green Bay in 2009. On Sunday, he'll be coaching the NFC champion Packers' safeties against his old team in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium.
"I was rooting for the Steelers to win the AFC because it would give me great satisfaction to beat those guys in this game," said Perry, a Steelers safety from 1992-98 and an assistant under Bill Cowher from 2003-06. "It's not all about me by no means, but it would be pretty special. It's kind of a mixed feeling because I've got so many ties with Pittsburgh. The Rooneys (who own the Steelers) were great to me. The players over there, Troy (Polamalu), Ike Taylor, James Farrior, those relationships are strong. Coach LeBeau is like a father to me. So it's going to be emotional."
LeBeau, who gave Perry his first coaching job with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2002, said he always knew that his protege would be a great coach.
"Darren's a great coach," LeBeau said. He's a smart, talented guy, a hard worker, a great family man. I'd hire him tomorrow if I needed a guy in his position."
Perry's pass defense ranked fifth in the league this season, first in interception percentage. Ray Horton, who helped Perry in Pittsburgh, was promoted to replace him, but his former pupils still miss him.
"We love DP," said free safety Ryan Clark, adding that Perry was the only coach to work him out when he was trying to break into the NFL in 2002.
"Darren taught me most everything I know about the safety position," said strong safety Polamalu, the Defensive Player of the Year. "He played in the system and he's very passionate about it. He helped me out a lot emotionally because my rookie year was very tough. He helped me learn the defense. He helped me learn so many different things about the position."
Perry talked to a few Pittsburgh players as well as Mitchell, Horton and a couple of Steelers executives on Media Day, but not on purpose.
Said Perry, "I shook a couple hands and got the heck out of there and said, 'we'll do this after the game.' I know we're going try to make them the second Steelers team to lose a Super Bowl. We don't want that '95 team (on which he started against Dallas) to be the only one."