Ron Cook: Finest moment for Mike Tomlin as Steelers coach
Ron Cook: Finest moment for Mike Tomlin as Steelers coach
December 3, 2013
By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It's pretty simple, isn't it? For the most part, those people who respect Mike Tomlin as a man and like the job he's doing as Steelers coach believed his story Tuesday about his sideline comportment in Baltimore and are looking forward to him having his team ready to play the Miami Dolphins. Those who don't didn't buy what Tomlin was selling and see the controversy as one more reason for the team to get rid of him.
There are a lot of both out there because Tomlin is one of the more polarizing figures in Pittsburgh sports history.
Put me in the first group.
In a fascinating and revealing 20-minute session with the media on the subject, Tomlin did a wonderful job explaining how he ended up on the field in front of Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones. He was contrite. He made it clear he deserved any punishment the NFL gives him. He even provided just the right amount of levity when he said his two sons still were honked off at him for becoming a national story in a very inappropriate way.
Other than perhaps Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Tomlin has the most scrutinized job in town. He always handles that part of his position well. But this might have been his finest moment.
Usually, I'm the most cynical person in the world when it comes to sports and the people who coach and play them. But I found Tomlin to be sincere. I believed him when he said he didn't step in front of Jones intentionally. If I felt otherwise, I would suggest the Steelers fire him immediately. There is no place for cheaters in any game.
I know, maybe I am a fool. I'm the first to admit that. But you know what? I would much rather be naive than mistakenly question a good, decent man's integrity. I'll criticize Tomlin's coaching decisions all day long, if I think it is warranted. Those are fair game for him or any coach. But I'll be damned if I question his probity based on what I saw Thursday night. He doesn't deserve that.
That doesn't mean the NFL shouldn't come down hard on Tomlin. All of us make honest mistakes and often have to pay a stiff price for them. So it will be with Tomlin. What's taking so long for the league to figure out his punishment, it's hard to say. But, clearly, a six-figure fine won't be too much. Nor will a one-game suspension. Docking the Steelers a draft pick might be excessive, but Tomlin has only himself to blame if that's the case. He was in the wrong spot at the wrong time.
For many of Tomlin's critics, no punishment for him will be enough. They want to see him fired. I'm guessing they believe in one or all of three major myths about Tomlin.
TOMLIN WAS HIRED ONLY BECAUSE OF THE ROONEY RULE
Named after Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who pushed for it, the rule requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate when it has a head coaching opening. There's no question that got Tomlin in the door after Bill Cowher resigned after the 2006 season. But he took advantage of the opportunity by doing a fabulous job of selling himself. He hasn't disappointed the Rooneys and many of the team's fans by winning two division titles and a share of a third in his first six seasons. The Steelers won the Super Bowl after the 2008 season and played in the one after the 2010 season.
It's true, the Steelers missed the playoffs last season and probably will miss them this season. But have you looked around the NFL lately? The league isn't designed for teams to win big every year. Ask the Atlanta Falcons, who played in the NFC championship last season. Ask the Houston Texans, who were a sexy pick to win the Super Bowl this season.
If there's any racial issue here, it's coming from a lot of the anti-Tomlin people. Not all of his critics are racists, but many are. They don't like Tomlin and never will because he's black.
TOMLIN WENT TO THOSE TWO SUPER BOWLS WITH COWHER'S PLAYERS
People forget Tomlin inherited a team that went 8-8 in Cowher's final season. He also stepped into a difficult situation. The veterans wanted one of Cowher's assistants -- Russ Grimm or Ken Whisenhunt -- not an outsider from the Minnesota Vikings. Star guard Alan Faneca also stepped down as captain because of a contract dispute with the front office and easily could have become a major distraction.
Welcome Coach T!
Tomlin didn't just keep the team together. The Steelers won the division title that season. He wasn't a great coach then. He practiced his players too hard too often during the long season and wore them down. But he listened to them when they complained, learned and eased up the next season. The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII. By then, it was Tomlin's team, not Cowher's.
TOMLIN ISN'T A DISCIPLINARIAN THE WAY COWHER WAS
Tomlin isn't the toughest coach in the NFL, but I firmly believe this: He is more of a disciplinarian than Cowher.
They say Tomlin's players celebrate too much after even routine plays. They are right. But have you watched other teams recently? Their players also dance when they get a first down or make a tackle when their team is down by 25 points. It's ridiculous. But it's also today's NFL.
Tomlin isn't perfect when it comes to discipline. Why he kept Alameda Ta'amu on the team last season after Ta'amu went on a dangerous rampage on the South Side is inexplicable. But he also has been tough at times. He wasn't afraid to embarrass Pro Bowler Casey Hampton by putting him on the physically unable to perform list when Hampton showed at training camp overweight. He also benched Rashard Mendenhall and Jarvis Jones, publicly calling them out for their work ethic and attention to detail.
Those are just a few examples.
As for Cowher, who was a great coach in his own way, I'm reminded of something former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis said after teammate Plaxico Burress left as a free agent to sign with the New York Giants, coached by the rigid Tom Coughlin. "I know [Burress] is not a stickler for the rules and Coughlin is all about rules. ... Coach Cowher allowed us a lot of flexibility. He never fined us for anything. You came late, you never got fined. You never got reprimanded for anything."
It's funny, Cowher was never questioned as a disciplinarian. It must have been because of that big jaw. It couldn't have been because he's white, right?
Tomlin will survive this sideline fiasco. His critics had better come to grips with it. He will be coaching the Steelers and winning a lot of games for a long, long time.
Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel
Smh Can't speak for anyone else,...but for me it has nothing to do with any "race" card shenanigans. My disdain for Tomlin is a product of his awful drafting and personnel decisions, and the fact that he is awful as a tactician and playcaller in the sense of x's and o's.
And finally because of the fact that even in spite of the aforementioned,... he remains an overwhelmingly smug and arrogant douche that does little more as a Head Coach than pose and spew cliches and coachspeak.
no facts, no inside info. just a guy with an opinion.
any tomlin hater could write a crappy article like this and spin a bad light on tomlin just as easy and have as much credibility.
1)he wasnt in the interview so he doesnt know if tomlin said a single word
2) those actually were cowhers players. cant really debate that.
3) his team has been in the press more, unprepared, held unaccountable more than cowhers teams.........
there, i did it.
People said the same about Bill Cowher in 2000.
Originally Posted by squidkid
Pittsburgh, PA: City of Champions.
Good article and right on the mark.
Even when time has shown that "some fan favorite" candidates like Whisenhunt and Grimm are failures as Head Coaches (Grimm can't even get the job) and would have been terrible choices the vitriol against Tomlin continues despite his success.
Last edited by Oviedo; 12-05-2013 at 05:48 AM.
- Charles Harris-OLB, Missouri
- Rasul Douglas-CB, West Virginia
- Chris Godwin-WR, Penn State
- John Johnson-S, Boston College
- James Conner-RB, Pitt
- Nazair Jones-DT, North Carolina
- Garrett Sickels, DE/OLB, Penn State
...and coach a football team that has won a lot of games during his tenure...
Originally Posted by Rod Polamalu
I did believe Tomlin did it on purpose, and I do not want him gone. With that said, I agree that Tomlin handled all of this really well. I have always been impressed with the way he represents the Steelers. While I still think that he has much to prove despite having a ring, his ability to handle the press in tough situations continues to be stellar. He is convincing. He now is making me wonder if all this was indeed an accident...even though my mind tells me...wow was that a convenient time to wander onto the field.
If you've always been impressed with the way that he represents the Steelers, then I don't know how you (at least initially) thought it was intentional. Mike always sounds polished and prepared. He's an intelligent guy. So think about how stupid someone would have to be to see a kick return coming your way and while looking at the jumbotron - which is likely what everyone is seeing on TELEVISION - start inching his way towards the field, knowing that the entire PRIMETIME viewing audience is watching !!! You would have to be incredibly stupid to do such a thing intentionally. The only other explanation would be a heat-of-the-moment intentional act that you did out of sheer frustration - like Cowher did years ago, where it clouds your immediate judgment. When I first saw it live and when I see it now, I thought it was a stupid ACCIDENT. And like always, Tomlin is handling the aftermath with extreme class.
Originally Posted by Shawn
What to do
The Videos speak for themselves.
The League reviewed them for days and came out with a measured response.
Its up to the Steeler owners to decide what they want to do.
The future and fortunes of the Pittsburgh Steelers rests upon their decision.
[QUOTE=DBR96A;585116]People said the same about Bill Cowher in 2000.[/QUOTE
Really? What part?
did they said he was hired because of a rule?
did they say his future superbowl win is gonna be with noll's players?
i must have missed that.