There are stories that seem to pop up exclusively around teams with ugly records that never pop up around those with better records — see almost everything having to do with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently — and a coach taking the toys out of the team’s locker room would certainly fit into that category.
That’s what happened with the Steelers, where coach Mike Tomlin has issued a team-wide ban on things like table shuffleboard, ping pong and pool that had been installed in the team headquarters in recent seasons as a reward for the team’s two Super Bowl trips under Tomlin. The Steelers veterans recently issued a decree that banned those with less than four years experience from playing the games, but now everyone from Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu to Le’Veon Bell and David DeCastro has to find otherwise to occupy themselves during their down time.
Safety Ryan Clark said that the idea behind the ban on younger players was that they needed to earn the right to play them, something Roethlisberger echoed when he said the youngsters were “getting comfortable” too quickly. Clark explained Tomlin made the change because the Steelers weren’t doing a good job of sharing.
“From his point, it was dividing the team in a way,” Clark said, via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “One sect of people couldn’t do a certain thing and he just wanted everybody to be together — because we’re all in the losses together. We’re all in the business of fixing this problem together. He didn’t want anything to divide us.”
It’s unlikely that a game-free locker room is going to be the thing that fixes all that’s been wrong with the Steelers this year. Should they beat the Jets this wekeend, Tomlin might want to try threatening to turn the team bus around on the way to the stadium in Week Seven.