Most of you who are regular readers here likely are aware by now that I am not a Pittsburgh native. My fandom comes from the east coast, and my attraction to the black and gold stemmed from their history of greatness, their style of play, and their seemingly consistent displays of class from the top of the organization on down.
That has held true for the most part over the course of the couple of decades that I have enjoyed watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play football. But there have been the lesser parts during which the organization dropped the ball on a draft pick or looked the other way on an off-the-field issue that they shouldn’t have that should not be ignored.
According to an article written yesterday by John Steigerwald, there have been some on-field issues as well—on the high school field, at North Catholic, of which chairman Dan Rooney and general manager Kevin Colbert are alumni.
Head coach Mike Tomlin and outside linebackers coach Joey Porter had children and nephews on the team. Former Steelers outside linebacker Jason Gildon was the team’s head coach. Now all of them are gone and the children have transferred to another school.
Gildon was fired after the season finished on a point not much elaborated upon in the article. But Steigerwald went on to write that “it’s safe to say that there aren’t many people in the North Catholic community who are sorry to see the parents go”, referring to Tomlin and Porter.
Porter is still coming fresh off a previous arrest at a bar that saw the Steelers temporarily place him on leave following their Wildcard Round victory. Apparently it wasn’t the first time in recent months that he has been involved with the police.
Steigerwald writes that he ran onto the field—as a parent, mind you—during a game in October to protest a call made by an official. “The officials asked the North Sewickley police to remove Porter”, according to the author, after which eyewitnesses report that Porter told the officers that “’if you want me to leave it’s gonna take more than just you’”.
Tomlin was not free from criticism either, as he was apparently seen dishing out some profanity in the North Catholic locker room “while trashing officials”. He and Porter were also uncooperative while loitering near a fence and obstructing attendees’ view of the game, and were seen smoking cigars during a playoff game in a non-smoking stadium.
I mentioned at the top of the article that I am not from the area in order to accentuate the fact that I am not privy to the local dynamics of the sports new climate there, nor the locales involved in the story and the local knowledge of these incidents.
But if what Steigerwald wrote in the article is true about the manner in which Porter and Tomlin have conducted themselves as parents, then I find myself very disappointed, particularly in Tomlin, in the way that they represented the organization. Tomlin in particular would be deserving of being called out for a bit of hypocrisy in light of his frequent comments about taking the mantle of being a role model seriously.