Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has presided over two ‘Bowl’ games over the course of his tenure with the team. The Steelers won the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2008 season, his second on the job, and reached the Super Bowl at the end of the 2010 season, but fell short of victory.
Today, he will be coaching his first Pro Bowl, and though he would much rather be preparing to coach the last game of the season, set to take place next week in Minneapolis between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, he is still taking the time to appreciate the opportunity that is working this all-star game as well.
It goes without saying that anybody in Orlando right now would much rather be in Minneapolis—anybody that is involved with an NFL team, that is. Or anybody that loves winter weather. Make no mistake that coaching the Pro Bowl amounts to even a poor consolation prize for not reaching the championship game.
But with that said, there is nothing to be done about having not made the Super Bowl for this season, so Tomlin and everybody else not playing in said game have had to learn to move on, and so he is focusing his efforts on coaching in the Pro Bowl, during which he will be lecturing to nine familiar faces.
“I’m really excited about it”, he said in his season wrap-up press conference a couple of weeks back after his team fell short against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round. “To get an opportunity to work with guys that are honored as the best in the business, to spend some intimate moments with them, to enjoy them, it’s awesome”.
Following the loss, the Steelers’ staff, along with the New Orleans Saints’ staff, were forwarded invitations to coach the Pro Bowl game, and both teams accepted said invitations. While it is somewhat humbling knowing that you will be preparing for a game with no stakes as the highest-stakes game is yet to be played, it can still be a rewarding experience.
“It’s a great environment to be in”, Tomlin said, “to spend time with the best in the world at what they do, to watch that camaraderie, to be a part of that is a special thing and an honor”. The head coach is widely considered to be among the most popular among players in the NFL.
You might have seen video of some of his interactions with players already while down in Orlando working with a diverse group of players. Among them is Los Angeles Chargers tackle Russell Okung, who actually visited the team during a free agent visit in 2016 and was actually given an offer. While he did not sign, he came away impressed with the coach, and the organization.
In a brief video clip that you might have seen around, Okung joked about wanting to play cornerback in the game, and asked Tomlin if he thought he could get his hands on Antonio Brown. The quick-witted orator replied that he couldn’t manage that even in a closet.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 26, 2018