Two days after Mike Tomlin bristled at being termed a “player’s coach,” during a pregame interview, he said he mostly bristles at the broad characterization it creates.
Tomlin told reporters Tuesday that he doesn’t necessarily take it as an insult, but that he’s insulted by the undertones the phrase carries.
“I refuse to be put in a box. It’s my job to be what my team needs me to be,” Tomlin said, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “Sometimes it’s close and cuddly and sometimes it’s not. I don’t have any problem being any of the above.
“Sometimes when they couple ‘player’s coach’ with questions about how I wear my hair or what I choose to wear on the sidelines or what type of music I listen to, then it gets kind of old and falls into that category for me. I’d like to think the manner in which I do my job, whether it’s positive or negative, has very little to do with my haircut or the clothes that I wear or the type of music I listen to, and that’s when I get annoyed with that line of questioning.”
Tomlin’s got a point, and it’s no different than the way players are characterized.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton got compared to players such as Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb before being drafted, even though he played more like Ben Roethlisberger.
Certain players are tagged as “athletic” and “instinctive” and certain players are “lunch pail guys” or “coaches on the field.”
And too often in the lazy telling of stories, those phrases fall along strict lines that just happen to coincide with the color of the players’ skin.
To that end, we agree with Tomlin. He’s not necessarily a player’s coach, any more than Dick LeBeau is.
He’s just a good one.