Mike Tomlin was in no mood to discuss Twitter on Tuesday. Or Facebook or Instagram or I suppose MySpace for that matter. Like many middle aged men I’m guessing Tomlin just doesn’t “get social media” and he’s in no hurry to either. But he was asked about it during his weekly press conference and I think he needs to reconsider his stance.
First of all, I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this for starters because in the grand scheme of things does it really have much bearing on the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers? Tomlin was asked about Antonio Brown sending a threatening tweet towards an ESPN journalist. His reply? “Guys… Don’t ask me about social media. I don’t have time for that.”
I believe him. Dealing with the social media usage of his players cannot rank very high on his to-do list and to be honest, most of the players aren’t an issue. Social media has become a way for these guys and the fans to engage one another in ways never before seen in pro sports. Most of the time that engagement is positive but when it isn’t, it can be down-right ugly.
Antonio Brown has now taken what many would deem “inappropriate” shots at two journalists so far this season (The most recent of which he has now apologized for through a spokesperson). His Training Camp reprimand of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Ed Bouchette was both immature and uncalled for. Bouchette was only tweeting what he observed and nothing more. That didn’t sit well with Brown and thus the Twitter smack was laid.
Tomlin not wanting to discuss social media is expected. But he needs to consider some things here too. He, like most coaches, doesn’t really care for weekly press conferences and his disdain for them at times comes out in negativity towards the journalists being paid to ask him questions. After my own self-reflection and discussion with peers I’ve come to the conclusion that Mike Tomlin owes more to these writers.
Ed Bouchette (who is one of them) is a hall of fame writer and I doubt he lost much sleep over Brown’s tweet but what, if anything, did Tomlin do to nip the behavior in the bud? It would appear nothing because Brown would behave in such a way again. So much of what Tomlin and the Steelers do is ‘in house’ and I think we’d all like to believe that’s where this was handled but I’m starting to think that isn’t the case. This new apology however has me wondering if Brown wasn’t “asked” to do it by Tomlin or someone else.
I do not know for certain who asked the question in the presser yesterday but they were well within their rights to do so. The better approach Tomlin should have had was just simply “I’m not going to discuss that at this time” and then left it alone but his mannerisms and tone suggested something much more negative and almost disrespectful.
There is no way that all of the attention here is reserved for Brown. Le’Veon Bell continues to be a social media mess. While he hasn’t threatened anyone he’s offered tickets to fans only to reneg on his promise and he’s posted videos of himself in strip clubs showing his idea of “good hands.” I’m not suggesting that players have to be angelic but shouldn’t Mike Tomlin hold them to a better standard than what they have portrayed? He is the head coach after all and whether he wants to be dealing with this headache or not is too darn bad. It’s now very much part of the culture and the fabric of the players in pro sports today.
If Tomlin has passed this duty onto someone else then this person is not getting the message across that the players need to be better on social media. Tomlin can brush off social media usage all he wants to but every writer in that room has a right to ask about it especially since it is they who have been the targets. Teams cannot control players 24/7. There has to be accountability on these young men and when they screw up there needs to be repercussions of some sort. All I know is that Mike Tomlin can do better when it comes to social media and his players or else this will become an even bigger headache for him.