At the end of the day, football is just a game. And there are many things in life that are much bigger than it, much more important. Mike Tomlin might be known as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach but he and the team have actively teamed up for a much greater cause: stopping human trafficking in both the United States and around the world.
As we’ve written about in the past, Tomlin and the team have partnered with Operation Underground Railroad, a group of former law enforcement and Navy Seals who fight to put an end to human and child sex trafficking.
Shortly before training camp began this year, Tomlin made a trip to Haiti as part of the program for a first-hand experience. He spoke with Craig Wolfley and Tunch Ilkin on Steelers Nation Radio about his time there and how it changes his perspective.
“It provides real perspective,” Tomlin said. “We went to a medical camp and we were providing basic medical supplies for people in the region who don’t get it…when subsistence is your focus day to day, things such as entertainment take a back seat.”
Tomlin called it a “heavy, heavy trip for me,” to be face-to-face with the issue. He said sex traffickers rely on “chaos,” like poverty, natural disasters, and government corruption, to slip under the radar. He also noted these problems don’t happen in third world countries. In fact, America has the highest numbers of sex trafficking per year.
“We, as Americans, are number one consumers of this space worldwide. The reason why these guys are so effective at their underground operations is that they look like most consumers in this space,” Tomlin said, referring to those who fight to stop it. “And that’s sobering. 10,000 kids are trafficked into the United States annually. Just as Americans, you think it’s in some far away place and it doesn’t apply to you. No, it applies to all of us. The safety of the world’s kids is our business.”
While it’s an issue that anyone would want to put an end to, it hits closer to home for anyone who has kids, like Tomlin, who has a 12 year old daughter.
“That’s what I thought about quite a bit when I was in Haiti. I thought about my 12 year old daughter. And if you got kids and if you just appreciate kids man, you got to do something.”
Tomlin’s trip was filmed and will be highlighted in an upcoming ESPN documentary. You can learn more about Operation Underground Railroad at the link here. And again, if you’d like to listen to Tomlin’s full interview with Tunch & Wolf, I absolutely encourage you to, click here to listen.