The Pittsburgh Steelers have grown famous—perhaps infamous in some circles—for embracing family pedigree as one of many factors they use to scout players. They’ve had numerous pairs of siblings on their roster over the years, including four sets of brothers in training camp in 2022, though half didn’t make the cut. A lot of fans want to see youngest brother Tremaine Edmunds reunited with middle brother Terrell this offseason.
But what about bringing in somebody’s father? That’s what happened in the front office—which isn’t exactly common. It does work the other way occasionally. Former general manager Kevin Colbert’s son Dan remains in the front office, indeed was promoted last year.
But a father in the front office and a son on the roster? That’s Sheldon and Cody White, the latter of whom has been on the practice squad or 53-man roster for the past two years. Sheldon has worn many hats in many different places over the years, but was brought in last year as Director of Pro Scouting.
Even though he’s officially on the pro side of things, White has a long history on the college side as well, including as a former area scout. He’s at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, and he spoke with Max Starks about how being in the same building as his son fuels them both.
“It’s a great dynamic because when you’re around your son and he’s competing at those highest levels, both of our jobs are so volatile”, he said, via the team’s website. “You have to bring it every day and be ready to roll. If you’re not, they will someone else to do it”.
“I keep telling him”, he added, “’I want you to last here longer than I am’”.
Sheldon White himself is a former player who spent six years in the NFL as a former third-round cornerback. He entered scouting shortly after his playing career ended, first with the Detroit Lions in 1997. He stayed with that organization through 2015, at which point he rose to interim general manager.
After leaving the Lions, he actually wound up with Cody at Michigan State during his son’s collegiate career there, serving as executive director of player personnel and recruiting through 2020. It would be a two-year hiatus before they would reunite in the field in Pittsburgh, though.
Cody went undrafted in 2020, originally signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. He also cycled through the New York Giants and Denver Broncos that year before landing on the Steelers’ practice squad in September.
The 6’3”, 215-pounder spent most of the 2021 season on Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster after JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a significant shoulder injury that kept him out until the postseason. He caught five of six targets for 33 yards with three first downs. He spent the 2022 season back on the practice squad, however, with one call-up, catching one pass for two yards.
With his special teams ability (he logged 105 snaps there in 2021 and nine in the one game he played last year), he does have a chance of continuing to stick around. Even if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, he can always be one snap away from a call-up. He’s already made this this far without the influence of his father in Pittsburgh.