The only player who has been around Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin longer would be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. So it’s fair to say that 11th-year guard Ramon Foster knows a thing or two about how the man thinks and operates. Following an offseason in which his head coach has been under fire and his job security questioned, Foster had a lot to say about Tomlin.
“Coach T has been handling us the same way for years”, he said when a reporter asked if he expected to see any changes based on recent circumstances regarding how he handles players. “He gives guys an environment to where they can develop themselves, and in that development of themselves, you get certain things out of it, whether good or bad. And we’ve always found a way to deal with it”.
He added, “I don’t think he’s gonna rein guys in or switch it up. The guys understand how to work through that, and because of the amount of respect that we have for him, and how he allows us to be men first and foremost. So I don’t think you’ll see somebody whipping the whip to just do this and do that”.
Tomlin has a reputation of being a player’s coach, and with that the perception of ‘going easy’ on players, but that’s not how Foster has seen it over the years. “I always refer to him as that uncle you just don’t want to piss off.”, he said.
“You know you can be who you want to be, but you step out of line—and you guys have seen him in his element, the element that you don’t see—he can be a real problem if you take him down that lane. It’s just, certain stuff, you know. You’re allowed to be yourself”.
He added that players around the league want to play for Tomlin. “He’s at the top of the list. That’s because they know how he deals with people, they know how you’re able to develop yourself. He’s not gonna carry you on a leash and tell you, ‘hey, you gotta do this, you gotta do that’. People who are mature enough and professional enough know how to handle that type of thing”.
Tomlin signed Foster as a college free agent out of Tennessee in 2009, and he has re-signed with the Steelers several times since then, each time never actually even giving himself the opportunity to formally become a free agent. Tomlin is part of the reason that he likes playing in Pittsburgh, even as he flirted with the idea of pursuing one final big contract elsewhere last year.
“Coach T is a guy that you want to work for, that you want to play for, that you give your all for, because you know at the end of the day the mutual respect he has for you is not seen around this league like that”, he said. On the concept of discipline, Foster said of his coach, “he don’t have to say much. Like I said, he’s that guy you don’t want to piss off. So with that being said, it has to be self-policed”.