Mike Tomlin opened up his Tuesday press conference with a brief statement on Joey Porter, who was placed on leave by the team yesterday.
“To be involved in the National Football League is an honor and a privilege, not a right, and we should respect it as such,” Tomlin told reporters. “Obviously, that was breached in this circumstance and there’s consequences to be suffered because of it.”
He said coaches are always held to a higher standard when it comes to issues like these.
“In this league, we’re all held to a standard of decorum. But coaches, front office people, executives, even moreso. And rightfully so. So obviously, we’re treating this with the attention it deserves.”
Tomlin said the issue would not be a distraction and the team has overcome many of them before. Specifically, he pointed out not having their defensive quality control coach last week after their was a death in his family.
“We’re not overly concerned with this being a distraction for us, to be quite honest with you. It’s our job to deal with and overcome distractions and things that pop up from time to time.”
Of course, the Steelers have had their fill of off the field storylines this season and have come out the other side. Whether it’s Martavis Bryant’s or Leveon Bell’s suspensions of Ladarius Green’s concussion saga, Pittsburgh has done a good job of – to steal Tomlin’s phrase – tuning out the noise from outside sources.
Tomlin said there was no timetable for Porter to return. It’s unclear if the team will wait for the legal system to play out before making a decision. If so, it’s reasonable to think Porter will not be on staff for the remainder of the playoffs.
He did not rule out Porter even returning for the Chiefs’ game but if he isn’t available, Tomlin said Keith Butler will coach that group. Butler served as the team’s linebackers coach from to 2003-2014 before ascending to the defensive coordinator, replacing Dick LeBeau.
“If he’s unavailable, Keith is going to do that, and I’m sure he’s excited about the opportunity. For eight years prior to being the coordinator, he coached linebackers here. For many years, he coached all four.”
Tomlin said he expects Butler to be “fired up” about the chance to coach his former group.