It’s not often that we get to see the relaxed, open version of Mike Tomlin outside of media scrums, but when the veteran Pittsburgh Steelers head coach appeared on the Flying Coach podcast with NFL Network’s Peter Schrager and Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, Tomlin was very open and having fun in the setting as he was joined by close friend and Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
Being open, relaxed and having fun led to a hilarious story from Tomlin involving Morris, the NFL Combine, and Steelers’ Hall of Famer “Mean” Joe Greene.
Tomlin and Morris coached together in Tampa Bay in the early 2000s when Tomlin was a defensive backs coach and Morris was a defensive quality control assistant, developing a lifelong friendship. That friendship carried over to the NFL Combine between 2009 and 2011 when Morris was the Buccaneers’ head coach and would often pop over into the Steelers’ interview room at the end of each day to hang out with Tomlin.
That led to an interesting interaction between Morris and Greene, who came about his nickname of “Mean” Joe by being, well, mean on the field.
As Tomlin tells it, Morris came into the room and approached Greene as if they were lifelong friends and just catching up.
“So, (Raheem Morris) is coaching the Bucs, I’m coaching the Steelers. Our combine interview rooms are right next door to each other. It’s perfect. Every night he finishes, he comes over to our room, and everybody knows the nature of our relationship, everybody likes Raheem, how could you not like Raheem?” Tomlin said. “But, like, I cringe whenever he was in the presence of Joe Greene because you just never know what the hell is gonna come out of Raheem’s mouth. And Joe’s nickname, is kind of well-earned, you know? And, man, Rah walks in there one night and sees Joe and he lights up. He’s like, ‘Joe what’s up! Your old mean ass!’ And it was like an eerie silence for about five seconds, and then Joe just fell out laughing. And it just signaled to the rest of us that we can laugh too. Like, I never seen anybody just force themselves on Joe Greene in a social type of way.”
Thankfully, Greene took it in stride and busted out laughing, rather than letting his on-field temper and demeanor spill out on the young Buccaneers’ coach.
Hearing Tomlin recall this story was a ton of fun because we really got to see his personality come out in a comfortable setting with friends discussing football. I sure hope that the further we get into Tomlin’s career, he’ll be more comfortable doing this because this was a side from him I haven’t really seen from him as he enters his 15th season at the helm of the Steelers.