Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has had a certain reputation ever since he first got the job with the team in 2007. He was seen as a ‘player’s coach’, and while the label fits, he has had a varied relationship with it.
In spite of the multiplicity of stories about it, though, it seems as though every player who comes through the door develops his own through their experiences, and it tends to be particularly notable among those who have played in other NFL organizations, such as cornerback Arthur Maulet, who shared his own with Aditi Kinkhabwala.
“He’s a different type of leader”, he said on 93.7 The Fan last night. “When I first came to Pittsburgh, I was doing training camp with the guys, and he’s very upfront, I’ll say that much”. He noted that he has been in four different organizations before to heighten the significance of his comparisons.
“One thing about Mike Tomlin that you get from him that you don’t get from a lot of other teams is that he’s upfront with you”, he said, “and you’re gonna know your position and your role in winning or whatever you have to do to help the team”.
While he didn’t use the word transparency, Kinkhabwala did, and Maulet fully agreed with it, saying that he makes things “very clear” with his players about where they stand and what they’re doing well and not doing well. Transparency has become a common word as it relates to Tomlin’s interactions with his players, in truth.
“He calls it JV and varsity, right? He makes it very clear”, he went on. “Like, this is varsity play, this is JV play, and if you’re playing JV you won’t play. Varsity players play. He keeps it real simple. He’s at your front door with it. And as a man and as a hard worker in the NFL, I can only accept that for, like, thank you so much”.
Of course, sometimes health dictates that some JV-performing players have to play, and he adjusts accordingly to try to get varsity play out of them. That’s what Tomlin manages to get out of the Steelers’ secondary on Sunday, in which only Maulet himself and starting safety Terrell Edmunds were healthy among regular contributors.