Even if a large contingent of people might believe that it would be in the best interests of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization to fire Head Coach Mike Tomlin, who has served in that capacity for the past 10 seasons, even his most stringent critics cannot deny some of the bona fides on his resume.
He does, after all, have a Super Bowl ring, and has been to the game twice—the AFC Championship game now three times. He has won over 100 games in 10 seasons, and has among the best winning percentages all-time among coaches to reach that number of victories.
So his on-field accomplishments should not be in doubt—even when they are—but that is not the only role that Tomlin takes quite seriously. As a father himself, the 45-year-old prides himself in taking upon the role of stewardship for future generations, and that extends not only to the young players that he coaches during the football season, but all who cross his path and seek an opportunity to learn.
That is why his greatest concern following the revelation of the dreaded ‘Facebook Live’ incident in which a recorded stream courtesy of wide receiver Antonio Brown captured Tomlin making some choice statements was the manner in which it would be viewed by young people.
That was intended to be a private moment for his players, a moment of unity, and it ended up backfiring on him because it was made public. So he apologized for his actions as they were made public, calling his language “regrettable” and talked about the value of the “platform” they have as members of the NFL, which is “not something we take lightly”.
I certainly think that that all played a role in why, when Tomlin was given an opportunity to give the commencement address recently at Robert Morris University, he used that as an outlet to utilize humor and poke fun at the incident while attempting to communicate his wisdom to a new generation.
During his speech, he noted that he will “proceed with a couple of assumptions”, before saying, “I know that assumptions are very dangerous. There’s a cliché about assuming”, pausing before quipping, “it can make Patriots out of you and me”.
He was of course alluding to the fact that he referenced the Patriots as “assholes” for having been extended extra rest time between their Divisional Round game and the AFC Championship game against the Steelers. It serves the double purpose of suggesting that it may have only fueled New England when they got wind of his word.
So he continued, noting that he will work under the assumption that, “in some form or fashion, one or more of you out there are somehow live-streaming this on the internet”, a reference that I should hope I don’t need to expand upon.
“And I’ll behave accordingly”, he said.
It was, I believe, an eloquent way of addressing an elephant in the room that perhaps most didn’t even notice was there, but it’s evident that Tomlin felt it was important to note it for the sake of his credibility in speaking to young people.
Of course, Stephen A. Smith had a problem with it. Enjoy.