The debate about whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin is a good football coach will never end. It will continue to polarize the fan base for as long he remains the coach and for years to come. But this isn’t about him as “Coach Tomlin.” There are no X’s and O’s to analyze, no game mismanagement to discuss… This is about Mike Tomlin, Mike Tomlin the man. This is about the guy who wasn’t just standing up for a player. This was a man standing up for an organization and he absolutely nailed it.
In case you missed it, Tomlin went on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ to defend Quarterback Mason Rudolph as accusations of him using a racial slur at Myles Garrett continue to fester. First you must understand how rare this is. Tomlin makes very few public appearances and even fewer comments during the offseason months. For him to actually go on ESPN on live television tells you just how important this was to him.
“The most recent one this past weekend, I took offense to it, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. “… I fully support Mason Rudolph. We, as an organization, fully support Mason Rudolph. To be quite honest with you, we were hacked off by what we saw this weekend.”
I’m guessing the term ‘hacked’ was not what Tomlin really wanted to say but for the purposes of FCC constraint and not wanting to be fined he went with that term instead. But he wasn’t done. Tomlin also took umbrage with a recent ‘Outside the Lines’ episode that again discussed the Rudolph-Garrett situation.
“These accusations are serious, not only in terms of Mason Rudolph’s character, but his professional pursuits,” Tomlin told Smith. “Nobody on that field, as a member of the Cleveland Browns or the Pittsburgh Steelers, corroborated what was said by Myles Garrett. … At no point during that piece this weekend was that stated.”
That right there is to me the most damning part of this whole thing. Tomlin called out ESPN’s usual manner of driving a story in the direction that they want it to go by completely eliminating a very key fact of the matter. It’s easy to create a narrative when you don’t provide all the details. Tomlin continued…
“It’s been a lot of negativity around Mason Rudolph,” Tomlin said. “He got fined $50,000 for essentially getting beat up. His reputation has been tarnished because of the allegations, none of which was founded. He was a quarterback in the losing circumstances at the end of a football game. Obviously he was an active participant in the altercation, but a lot of the things that have gone on beyond that, I struggle with.”
As I stated in the opening, this wasn’t about a coach coming forward, this was about a man doing what he felt he needed to do. Coach Tomlin, like all of us in our day-to-day operations has flaws, but as a person, today showed just what many others think about this situation and the ‘hot take’ culture in general.
Well done Mike Tomlin.
Quotes courtesy profootballtalk.com and espn.com