When somebody who spends a lot of time in one organization moves to another, he has a tendency to make a lot of connections that he tries to take along with him. Just take currently Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Brian Arians as an example. He has members of his staff who have traveled with him from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Indianapolis Colts to the Arizona Cardinals and, even after a year off, now to Tampa.
We didn’t see any movement when the Cleveland Browns were purchased by former Steelers minority owner Jimmy Haslam. That could be different with David Tepper, another former Steelers minority owner, now running the Carolina Panthers. There is already a report that he wants to go after Kevin Colbert, among perhaps other front office personnel.
With the firing of Ron Rivera as head coach, and Tepper actively saying that it’s his time to put his stamp on the football side of things, that’s gotten the wheels turning in some people’s heads. According to Mike Florio, he is willing to go “outside the box” for his next coaching hire, an answer that was given in response to a question about the possibility of targeting a head coach currently with a team in that capacity.
And so Florio naturally floated out the possibility of Tepper pursuing current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. From the Panthers’ perspective, it would make a lot of sense to want to acquire one of the best head coaches in the league. Not that it would ever happen, of course.
Aditi Kinkhabwala Tweeted that she was told the question was put to Tepper about pursuing Tomlin. “You think I’d *** Art Rooney?!”, was his response, according to the NFL Network reporter.
I was told that this very question was put to #Panthers owner David Tepper, that he was asked if he’d be willing to trade draft choices for #Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
His response, the way I was told it, was: “You think I’d (expletive) Art Rooney?!” https://t.co/B5d3hkb6iw
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) December 9, 2019
While there have been reports in the past that some minority owners of the Steelers had been against Tomlin, even supposedly wanting him fired after the 13-3 2017 season, it’s more or less known that Tepper was never among that group, if there even was one to begin with.
Even after he bought the Panthers, he was pretty clear in saying that he wanted to instill some of what he learned with the Steelers organization into Carolina. There’s hardly a better way to do that than to get some of the guys who run the ship over there.
But that also comes with a good deal of respect, and the Rooney family is rightfully revered for their character both in the business and in life. I think Tepper’s response to the suggestion of hiring Tomlin, immediately going to Rooney, is pretty telling.