While many fans in Pittsburgh want to run him out of town, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is one of the most respected individuals in his profession. He is among the longest-tenured coaches in some time, with one of the best winning percentages, and has a Super Bowl title.
He is certainly not without criticism, but I think we all can agree that he could very easily find another head coaching job in a short amount of time were he to ever be ousted from his current job. 15 years ago, no doubt, the Miami Dolphins wish they hired him.
But he was evidently “too hip-hop” for the organization at that time, which I can only fairly note was not owned by Stephen Ross at the time in 2007, his entrance into the fray coming a year later. While a recent comment by Miami Herald reporter Omar Kelly brought this quote back into circulation, it’s actually been out there for at least 11 years, I’ve found.
There was an article from the Herald in February of 2011 that appears no longer to be accessible, but it is preserved through the power of the internet. Written by Armando Salguero, he quotes a Dolphins employee at the time who was directly involved in the hiring process as saying weeks after their hiring of Cam Cameron as head coach that Tomlin was “too hip-hop” for the job.
Tomlin was 34 years old going on 35 at the time that he was interviewing for head-coaching opportunities in 2007, a year after serving as the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, first under one of his mentors, Tony Dungy, and then with Jon Gruden, whom he helped win a Super Bowl title in 2002.
He was just an up-and-comer at the time, and it certainly wouldn’t have been shocking if he didn’t land a head-coaching job in 2007. The Steelers saw something in him during that interview process, however, in spite of the fact that they had candidates in whom they were already high on. They went into his interview with their ears and their mind open and came away convinced that he was their man.
Things worked out pretty well, especially for the first half a decade of his 15-year tenure here, which included two appearances in the Super Bowl, with one title. As needs not recounting, his postseason legacy leaves much to be desired, but he has consistently managed to field competitive teams, which is more than can be said for the Dolphins since then.
Cameron lasted one entire season as the Dolphins head coach and was a dismal failure, going 1-15 before being canned. He was the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator for the next four-plus seasons before his mid-season canning in 2012 sparked in the team some good luck, and they went on to embark on a Super Bowl run.
But at least he wasn’t too hip-hop.