If it can at all be avoided, the Pittsburgh Steelers at the organizational level greatly prefer to prevent from reaching ‘lame duck’ status with their head coach, should they enter a season under the final year of their contract. It is for this reason that they like to get extensions done when head coaches have you years remaining on their deal.
And they did that, yet again, with current head coach Mike Tomlin, who is entering his 13th season and is now under contract for at least 15 following the signing of a one-year extension, on a contract that also includes a second year as an option that would put him under contract through 2022 if picked up.
As the owner and president of the franchise, Art Rooney II ultimately has final say on such matters. And every time there is a contract talk to be had with a head coach, it comes only after a discussion takes place face to face. Rooney and Tomlin had that talk, and then a deal was made.
Later in the day, after the contract was announced, the owner was interviewed by Bob Labriola on Steeler Nation Radio and was asked to comment on Tomlin and why he was deserving of an extension after missing the playoffs. “Mike’s track record, as far as I’m concerned, speaks for itself”, he said. “He’s one of the best coaches in the league, and we’re just happy to have him onboard. Happy he’s on our side of the field”.
While many on the outside—many within the fanbase—believe at the very least that he should be on the ‘hot seat’ this year, the organization has not given any indications of that, though perhaps some will interpret the option year as a reflection of that possibility.
Through his first 12 seasons, Tomlin has posted 125 wins in 192 games with 66 losses and one tie, currently owning the 15th-best winning percentage in NFL history. He is 27th all-time in wins and can realistically climb up to 23rd by the end of the year.
While it’s easy to speak of wins and losses, Labriola asked of Rooney what other qualities Tomlin brings to the table that makes him believe he is deserving of his place, and his salary, and why he wouldn’t want to face him on the other sideline.
“There are a lot of assets that Mike brings to his job”, he said. “Certainly his energy, his passion for the game. I mean, he’s a football lover. He eats, sleeps and breathes it. Sometimes you almost have to tell him to go home and take a break. But he loves the game of football, and is probably one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever been around. And so, like I say, we’re, we’re lucky to have him on our side”.
Like it or not, Tomlin figures to be here for at least three more years, and even if he parts then, it may be of his own accord. The hope is that by that time he will have added another Lombardi Trophy or two to the display case inside of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.