View Full Version : Mike Tomlin, On Coming Home

07-08-2010, 06:02 PM

I talked with Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin the other day in advance of his annual return to the Peninsula, where he was raised, to work some free football camps run by the
Hampton Roads Youth Foundation. Tomlin had no interest in talking about specific Steelers issues such as the suspended Ben Roethlisberger or his teamís second-half collapse last season that kept it from making the playoffs. But Tomlin did expand a bit on why itís so important to him to return to Newport News and spend some of his rare downtime with local youth:

ON MAKING HIS ANNUAL ďAPPEARANCEĒ AT HOME: ďItís funny to me that itís viewed that way. I guess the view of it has changed because of the job that I have. But Iíve been making an effort to come down there for years. It was just I guess with a little less fanfare when I was a position coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ďMy entire family is in the greater Hampton Roads area. Newport News, Hampton, Suffolk, Norfolk, thatís where I was born and raised, so thatís home for me. Itís home base. More than anything what happens is when you get home, your time isnít necessarily your time. Iíve got a bunch of people to see and things to get done, and thatís OK, Iím just glad that Iíll be back around familiar faces and anything that I can do to help, Iím willing to. So I try to kill multiple birds with the same stone over the course of this weekend coming up.Ē

ON WHY HE SUPPORTS THE FREE YOUTH CAMPS RUN BY THE YOUTH FOUNDATION: ďFor me, when we were growing up in Newport News, there were a lot of men that made sacrifices for us. They did provide blueprints for us in terms of how to conduct ourselves. Free camps were provided for us. Coach Tommy Reamon used to have a football camp every year when I was a kid. We all went to it. And for those who couldnít afford camps, going away to college camps and things, that was our football camp. Guys like Coach Reamon, man, are blueprints for me and Iím just doing what Iím supposed to do. Hopefully I can touch the lives of some of the young kids who come to our camp and 20 years from now theyíll in turn do the same thing. ďI have a youth camp in Pittsburgh that I just did the other week; itís a skills camp. Itís a different camp, though, kids pay for it. This more than anything man is about giving back to the community from which I came. Providing opportunity for kids that might not be given an opportunity under other circumstances and just doing what it is Iím called to do. Iím very blessed and there are responsibilities that come with that.Ē

ON HOW HE RESPONDS TO KIDSí QUESTIONS ABOUT TROUBLED PLAYERS SUCH AS MICHAEL VICK AND BEN ROETHLISBERGER: ďI respond to those questions the same way I respond to them when they come from my kids. Iím a parent. I have a 9-year old son, an 8-year old son and a 4-year old daughter. And thankfully my kids understand because they live it every day of their lives, they move in the same circles that I move in, and they understand that these people are no different than any other people in any walks of life. They make mistakes, they have common human frailty, and itís important they make corrections and move on from it like anybody else. Their mistakes or shortcomings or growth and development is played out in the media if you will, but that doesnít make them any different from anyone else. That we all fall short of the glory and the grace of God at times, and that itís important how we move on from it. ďMore than anything these young people understand that these people are just that, theyíre people, and none of us are perfect. And life isnít necessarily about the things that happen to you, itís more about how you respond to it. And we acknowledge that we have a level of control over some of the things that happen to us sometimes and weíre not victims in this all the time. Itís just that people make mistakes. If me being at a camp and being around kids multiple days and them getting to understand me . . . I donít want kids to think that Iím some alien, that I dropped off of some spaceship. Iím Mike Tomlin, Iím from Newport News, Va., I graduated from Denbigh High School and yes, Iíve been very blessed but a lot of the things of course that have happened to me have come out of just working and being normal."

ON THE DEPTH OF FEELING FANS AROUND THE COUNTRY HAVE FOR THE STEELERS; ďIt does not surprise me, and I say that because Iíve been in this business for a number of years, and when you compete against the Steelers like I did, prior to becoming one myself, you have an understanding of the depth of relationship that this organization has with its fans. Itís special. And itís based on deeds, I mean, thereís a reason why the relationship is what it is. Itís because these guys before, they provided a lifetime of memories for the fans. So I have a level of respect for it, I understand why it is what it is. I only want to add to it, I donít want to take away from it. I appreciate it but Iím not in awe of it.Ē

ON WHY HE DIDNíT WANT TO COMMENT ON STEELER SPECIFICS: ďI donít come to Virginia to talk about my job. . . . Iím excited about the upcoming season. My goal is and will be the same every year and thatís to be world champs. Iím excited about putting together a formula thatís going to be conducive to making that occur. And I feel like my chances are as good as anyone elseís that we compete against. The answer to that question will always be the same as long as Iím coaching and breathing.Ē

ON WHETHER HIS LACK OF NFL PLAYING EXPERIENCE Ė TOMLIN PLAYED RECEIVER ONLY AT WILLIAM AND MARY Ė EVER HELD HIM BACK IN COACHING; ďItís never been a significant hurdle at all. The one thing that I admire about this league and about the guys that play this game is that theyíre open to anyone whoís capable of helping them. When players sense that you can make them better, that they can improve, that you can keep them in this league a day longer than maybe they anticipated being in this league, theyíre gonna be all ears. Thatís they way itís been for me since day one. . . . As long as youíre doing that, your resume, your background, where you come from, your demographics, your age, is irrelevant. ď