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Najee Harris Appreciates Mike Tomlin’s Coaching Style: ‘He’s Letting Me Grow’

Mike Tomlin Najee Harris

Recently, NBC Sports’ Michael Smith sat down with Najee Harris, Mike Tomlin, and other Steelers to dive more into Najee’s backstory in terms of his humble upbringings, his time at Alabama, and his experiences thus far in the NFL in his second season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot recently highlighted Tomlin’s thoughts on his relationship with his running back, and Harris gave his perspective on the relationship he and his head coach share.

“We have a good relationship, man,” Harris said about Tomlin to Michael Smith on video from the NFL on NBC’s YouTube Channel. “That’s for sure. One of the best coaches I have been around. I can grow myself. He’s letting me grow rather than placing a lot of stuff upon me. Which, is it a lot, being a team captain in your second year especially for a running back? He helps me handle it well.”

Najee Harris and Mike Tomlin are two big personalities, with Harris having a flamboyant personality and Tomlin being known for being a players’ coach that has a dictionary of his own Tomlinisms that most Steelers fans have become accustomed to over the years. They both live, eat, and breathe football and mention time and again that they hate settling for mediocrity and that the standard is the standard, whether it be from an individual performance like Harris as a first-round running back or the overall success of the team, with Tomlin never having a losing record on his resume as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Still, Tomlin understands the pressure that Harris puts on himself to be exceptional in every facet of his life, and allows him to grow as a football player as well as a man without breaking him down with criticism. Harris has always been his worst critic, and even sought out advice from his former HC in Nick Saban, at Alabama who is widely known for stern personality.

Harris knows that he hasn’t played to the level of expectation he has on himself along with the rest of Steeler Nation, shouldering the running game struggles rather than putting the blame on someone else. That’s the sign of a true leader. Someone who doesn’t divert the blame and is slow to accept the praise. These characteristics of Harris bring Tomlin joy as a coach that would rather say ‘woah’ than ‘sic’em’. That’s why Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers organization entrusted Harris to be a team captain in just his second NFL season, knowing he would take the honor seriously and attempt to live up to that designation the best he can.

It’s more than just a coach/player relationship between Najee Harris and Mike Tomlin. The two share a strong bond that more resembles a family dynamic rather than just strictly business. This dynamic not only helps Harris feel comfortable in his development as a player, but also his development as a young man under Tomlin’s watchful eye.

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