Terry Bradshaw’s criticism of Mike Tomlin was bizarre, gratuitous, inaccurate

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Hall of Fame Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw has generated plenty of attention for his criticism of current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Steelers players didn’t like it, and Tomlin said that Bradshaw’s reference to the Super Bowl-winning coach as a “cheerleader guy . . . probably fall more toward the area of disrespect and unprofessional.”

Bradshaw, on one hand, is entitled to have an opinion and to deliver it in frank and candid fashion. Others are likewise entitled to have an opinion about Bradshaw’s opinion.

And I’m entitled to broaden the lens a bit and ask this question: When is the last time in the past 15 years that Bradshaw has said anything remotely insightful about the NFL? He rarely if ever articulates theories or ideas that provoke thought or serve as the launching point for a meaningful discussion.

That’s not really his role. He’s a personality. A storyteller. Gregarious, funny, affable, entertaining, and (typically) non-threatening. He’s that kooky, unfiltered uncle who can’t get a sentence out without tripping over his tongue and who routinely blurts out all sorts of incomprehensible nonsense when trying to read highlights.

And he’s fine with that. Bradshaw knows his role, and he gladly embraces the profit potential of being football’s version of Sonny Bono — a lovable, unpolished rube who can mask substantive deficiencies, absence of preparation, and lack of attention to detail with an “aw shucks” and a belly laugh.

That’s what makes his biting criticism of Tomlin even more bizarre. It’s not like Bradshaw to take aim with that kind of over-the-top specificity. Because he so rarely does it, it seems mean and personal on those rare occasions when it happens.

As many have pointed out since Bradshaw’s assault emerged four days ago, Tomlin’s track record speaks for itself. While in this day and age there always will be someone who will agree with any theory no matter how inaccurate it may be, there hasn’t been a groundswell of voices yelling “second” in response to Bradshaw’s assessment.

That serves only to underscore how strange the situation was and still is. Whatever the reasoning and motivation, Bradshaw swung and missed so badly on this one that it has prompted a long-overdue assessment of what he actually brings to the table, beyond comic relief.

77 responses to “Terry Bradshaw’s criticism of Mike Tomlin was bizarre, gratuitous, inaccurate

  1. He could very well be helping his former team create an “us against the world” mentality.

    As a Patriots fan, Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi have done similar things in the past to spark the locker room from afar. You send out a public jab for the sole reason to be proven wrong.

  2. I know it’s the holiday break, but even backup photo guy should have thought of Jackie Chiles for this one.

  3. If you notice, the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t really have him around practices, or the training facility… And his animosity towards Big Ben probably has something to do with it also
    I am definitely not going to pull the race card, but there are plenty of other coaches who would qualify under the “cheerleader” category

  4. Bradshaw isn’t the brightest but he is quite correct on Tomlin. A great coach does not continue to lose to bottom feeding teams season after season. When he gets his team to consistently beat the teams they should and rise up against better ones, then he’ll be a great coach.

  5. “Tomlin’s track record speaks for itself.”

    Indeed it does. From 2011-present, Tomlin has been a glorified Marvin Lewis. Went 8-8 twice, had a few solid regular seasons, and basically no playoff wins (lets be honest, the Bengals lost more than the Steelers won). The further he gets from Chin’s old roster and Lebeau’s old defense, the more clear it becomes that Tomlin’s Steelers are always overhyped and will never hang with the Pats.

  6. PFT loves the Steelers says:
    Dec 27, 2016 2:44 PM
    “Tomlin’s track record speaks for itself.”

    Indeed it does. From 2011-present, Tomlin has been a glorified Marvin Lewis. Went 8-8 twice, had a few solid regular seasons, and basically no playoff wins (lets be honest, the Bengals lost more than the Steelers won). The further he gets from Chin’s old roster and Lebeau’s old defense, the more clear it becomes that Tomlin’s Steelers are always overhyped and will never hang with the Pats.

    ——————-
    I liked this comment above, but I just wanted to re-post it with hearty “second”, just so Mikey can see it clearly.

  7. Well said, PFT. Well said. Bradshaw’s shot at Coach Tomlin was bull***t.

    For a man who is perpetually embittered over criticism directed at him — Bradshaw slings some flaming arrows more than one might expect.

    As noted above, Brad does not bring a lot to the party – and his deficiencies can always be ameliorated with a “hyuk, hyuk, hyuk,” rube-esque belly laugh (often during times when nothing even remotely funny, or even intended to be funny, is said).

    One would imagine the hyper-sensitive Bradshaw would be less likely to launch salvos – given how much he was wounded (and stays wounded nearly 50 years later) by them – – – but strangely, that is not the case. At least Coach Noll’s critiques were driven with the aim of on field performance and production. Bradshaw launches his inane blasts purely gratuitously.

    It’s weak.

  8. Tomlin’s tenure is marked with by a woman beater as a QB and numerous unethical, unprofessional, and dirty players on defense.

    He owns that record and it should be blood stains on any positives that he might want to invent.

    The truth hurts.

    And Tomlin is very dirty laundry – a urine yellow towel.

  9. I have no dog in this fight

    Tomlin 102-57 (.642)
    Cowher 149-90 (.623)

    But .642 is greater than .623. I personally feel they were/are both good coaches. Some act like one is great and the other is trash but those are just opinions that they can’t really back up with facts.

    Some are better than others at deciphering between what is reality and what they want to be reality.

  10. Bradshaw was wrong . He was a great player for his time but even he didnt go down swinging.

    The game has changed so he can either pay attention or contine to watch using scripted notes.

  11. I seriously think Terry Bradshaw is starting to come down with dementia. Too many concussions are now starting to show. He needs to retire and enjoy the fruits of his labor and career. It’s easy to see this happening.

  12. “Tomlin has been a glorified Marvin Lewis”. So you cherry picked a period of time when his record wasn’t great to prove your point? By that scientific standard BB is a louse – if we look only at his Cleveland record.

    Tomlin has never had a losing season. He’s taken his team to the playoffs seven times in ten years. He’s averaged 10 wins a season. He’s won five division titles during a time that has seen Baltimore win a SB and the Bengals become competitive again. He’s been to two SBs and won one. And he’s back in the playoffs as the #3 seed with only one “Cowher guy”. And that period you speak of? For most franchises that would be the time they drift into obscurity. But he’s turned the roster over and made them competitive again. How many coaches have a resume like that? Not many.

    And read his tweet to see why he’s well regarded. He knows he isn’t great. I love his approach to the issue. Classy, professional and insightful. Unlike the windbag Bradshaw and most of the commentators here.

  13. I didn’t know Bradshaw “assaulted” Tomlin?
    I thought he just said that he “wasn’t a great coach”, which is certainly correct.

  14. “…a lovable, unpolished rube who can mask substantive deficiencies, absence of preparation, and lack of attention to detail with an “aw shucks” and a belly laugh.”
    *****************************************************************
    Nailed it! I’m still chuckling. An excellent description of this perennial buffoon.

  15. PFT loves the Steelers says:
    Dec 27, 2016 2:44 PM
    “Tomlin’s track record speaks for itself.”

    Indeed it does. From 2011-present, Tomlin has been a glorified Marvin Lewis. Went 8-8 twice, had a few solid regular seasons, and basically no playoff wins (lets be honest, the Bengals lost more than the Steelers won). The further he gets from Chin’s old roster and Lebeau’s old defense, the more clear it becomes that Tomlin’s Steelers are always overhyped and will never hang with the Pats.

    —————————————————————–

    The Steelers rolled the dice in 2009, gambling that they could squeeze one more Lombardi out of the talented, aging group that won in 2008. So, they extended some contracts and kept some players that they normally would have let go. They came up just a few points short against the Packers in 2010.

    Starting in 2011, under the duress of these crippling contracts, they were rebuilding their team with Tomlin at the helm–all while never falling below .500 and even managing to make the playoffs in a highly competitive division where 2 or 3 teams regularly have double digit wins [unlike the abysmal AFC East where there has been absolutely no competition for the past 15 years. And division tit;les come very cheap]

    He makes some crazy decisions…but he’s a damn fine coach. It ain’t easy to win in the AFC North!

  16. If you’re going to check the statistics, pick the ones that don’t lie — Since 2011, that is, the last FIVE YEARS, Tomlin has produced three early playoff losses.
    And within even that success, Big Ben the battered gunslinger has been bailing him out and taken a terrible beating in the process. All the while MT’s whining about officiating, headsets and tripping opponents. No, he’s not the worst HC in the league, not even in the bottom tier, which is chockabloc with incompetence — but he’s not great. To quote Bill Walsh, “He’s just good enough to get you beat.”

  17. Tomlin isn’t all that as a cheerleader either. Terry has the SB Hardware and the Division Titles. Tomlin’s reputation is built on the anomally of “luck” in games. If you admit Tomlin has called the work of “luck” as if his coaching then U know why Terry is right. Tomlin will not move past the first playoff game. Tomlin is a rot coach.

  18. If you’re going to check the statistics, pick the ones that don’t lie — Since 2011, that is, the last FIVE YEARS, Tomlin has produced three early playoff losses.
    ———
    Translation:
    only cherry pick the stats that help make my argument. Because if you use all the data then I don’t have a leg to stand on.

    Much like Roger Goodell and Deflategate.

  19. Bradshaw’s comments about Tomlin were bizarre, even if he thought they were true and even if they were in fact true. That Tomlin is a Super Bowl winning coach with a positive overall win-loss record is undeniable, and makes Bradshaw’s comments even more bizarre. Since Bradshaw never played under Tomlin and is not in the Steelers’ locker room, the only way he could obtain that kind of info was leaks from current or former players. Since none have stepped forward, even anonymously, casts real doubt about how he formed that opinion. Although I enjoy the chemistry of the panel on Fox, I think it is time for Bradshaw to retire.

  20. Mike, Bradshaw is much more entertaining than you. Namath says negative things about the Jets and he’s usually accurate. Both, as great NFL quarterbacks, have earned that right

  21. sirjoeshmoe2015 says:

    Bradshaw isn’t the brightest but he is quite correct on Tomlin. A great coach does not continue to lose to bottom feeding teams season after season. When he gets his team to consistently beat the teams they should and rise up against better ones, then he’ll be a great coach.

    —————-

    Exactly what bottom feeders did the Steelers lose to this season? Their 5 losses come against the two best records in the league – the Pats and Cowboys – a 10-5 playoff team in the Dolphins, their arch rival Ravens in Baltimore and a 3-0 Eagles team in Philly that just beat the Giants.

    If those 5 are considered bottom feeders, I’d love to know which coaches you respect.

  22. In addition, he has not presented a single fact or example of how he came to that opinion. Even a string of dubious logic would be acceptable. Nothing.

  23. I don’t have a dog in this fight, as I am not a fan of either Bradshaw or Tomlin. But for the past several years I have thought it was past time for Fox to move on from Bradshaw, who has become more and more irrelevant and non-entertaining on their NFL broadcasts. This may provide some momentum for Fox to make a move.

  24. Terry Bradshaw is nearly 70 years old. He played the part of going senile in the 2006 movie “Failure to Launch” with Matthew McConnachy. Mike Tomlin should just politely ignore Terry and focus on his team.

  25. Maybe Bradshaw found out Tomlin started the rumour of his premature death from a few years ago.

    ======================================

    His physical death was prematurely announced. His professional credibility has been dead for fifteen or so years. Chris Berman is fresh and relevant compared to Bradshaw.

  26. .
    I care deeply about the opinions of the pre-game ” analysts” . What insight can ” the coach” or Jimmy Johnson provide me that’s unavailable elsewhere?
    .

  27. Loved Bradshaw as a player and he led some great Steelers teams in an era when defenses could almost literally rip apart offensive players on the field and not be flagged. If the younger fans today were ever to go back and watch a couple of those games they would be stunned at the difference.

    But on the air……he sucks just as much as the rest of the “on air talent” that gets shoved down our throats by all the networks.

  28. What exactly about Bradshaw’s comments are so wrong and inaccurate? He may have been inartful, but Bradshaw’s assessment of Tomlin is just about right. When players have successful teams but just aren’t good NFL coaches (Barry Switzer, Don McCafferty), it’s well-understood that the teams are better than the men who coach them. Bradshaw’s observations are not bizarre, gratuitous, or inaccurate. In fact, they’re quite accurate.

  29. Switzer and McCafferty have a combined 68 wins. McCafferty was fired in his third season after starting 1-4; Switzer was fired after his fourth season after going 6-10 and finishing 4th in the NFC East.

    Since Tomlin has never finished fourth, has never had a losing record and has coached two more years than those two combined, it isn’t just apples to oranges, it’s apples to automobiles.

  30. As a life-long Steeler fan, I say this:

    Sorry all, but a guy who loses 19 out of 24 games to sub .500 teams is certainly NOT a “great” football coach. And Tomlin is NOT a great preparer at all, nor is he able to make in-game adjustments. He wins games because of the great talent his team is laden with. Those are just the facts, regardless of what anyone’s opinion is. I understand no team can win the Super Bowl year after year, no matter who you are. But there have certainly been some squandered years with Tomlin NOT having this team ready to face bottom feeders.

  31. sirjoeshmoe2015 says:
    Dec 27, 2016 4:21 PM
    @ Mike Tomlin says: This year it was just the Eagles. 2015 Baltimore twice. 2014 Tampa Bay, Cleveland, NY Jets. 2013 Tenn, Oakland, Miami…

    ————————————————–

    True that.
    But the Steelers just weren’t a very talented team those years. And i’ll admit, the second Ravens loss last year was the single most nauseating game i’ve witnessed in my 47 years as a Steeler fan. But… [i’ll repost my explanation from earlier]

    The Steelers rolled the dice in 2009, gambling that they could squeeze one more Lombardi out of the talented, aging group that won in 2008. So, they extended some contracts and kept some players that they normally would have let go. They came up just a few points short against the Packers in 2010.

    Starting in 2011, under the duress of these crippling contracts, they were rebuilding their team with Tomlin at the helm–all while never falling below .500 and even managing to make the playoffs in a highly competitive division where 2 or 3 teams regularly have double digit wins [unlike the abysmal AFC East where there has been absolutely no competition for the past 15 years. And division tit;les come very cheap]

  32. Im sorry but he is not wrong, tomlin is and will always be a garbage coach. He is just a cheerleader as Bradshaw said. I wouldent put him in the top 15 coaches now let alone call him great

  33. As said, above…clearly there are some mental health issues going on with Terry Bradshaw. He seems slower, His words seem a bit…off. Not just in this case. CTE brain damage probably. Bradshaw has been quite public with his battles with depression. Probably caused by concussions. Now the rest of the symptoms are starting to show up.

  34. Sure in 2013 – 2014 he lost to some bad teams but the Steelers weren’t a good team then either. They were 8-8 and rebuilding on the fly. Meaning, they weren’t necessarily playing down to the level of competition.

    In recent years he has had his hand in building one of the best olines in the league, finding AB and Bell (and got harassed about passing on Lacy), drafted Dupree, Shazier and Tuitt, followed by 3 rookies this year who became starters and played extremely well, resulting in a young defense on the rise.

    Now that he was able to restock the talent most of the bad losses have gone away. The Eagles this season was embarrassing and they sure should have beaten Ryan Mallot last season, but to make the playoffs for the third year in a row in a division that up until this year was phenomenal is a feat.

    I understand many fans hold the Steelers to a gold standard (only half sarcastic) but compared to just about everyone not named Belicheck, Tomlin has fared extremely well over his first 10 seasons.

  35. Purposeful (“factchecker”)? Maybe, especially knowing that Bradshaw’s not likely to stir-up a Steelers hornet’s nest simply to opinionate, and then just prior to playoffs.

    Motivational, simply opinion or Fox just being Fox, one can’t deny strain of substance in Terry’s talk (See; Tomlin 2-step, 11.28.13 (T-day), $100,000 fine). Can’t even picture Tom Landry or Tony Dungy (“great(s)”) pulling the stunt.

  36. It’s not really that big of a deal. Bradshaw has always been a big mouth and had negative things to say about the Steelers. What’s more surprising is that Terry is still hung up over things that happened 40 some years ago. Let it go.

  37. Bradshaw’s standard for greatness may be a little higher than most other people’s. Time will tell, but, right now, Tomlin should not be mentioned with the likes of Lombardi, Belichick, Walsh, Shula, Landry and Noll.

  38. youknowyourteamisgreatwhenthetrollscantstop says:

    ” As a life-long Steeler fan, I say this:

    Sorry all, but a guy who loses 19 out of 24 games to sub .500 teams
    is certainly NOT a “great” football coach. …” Blah, Blah Blah

    This is complete bunk.
    Cite your sources for these so-called facts.

    I bet they they are as true and valid as you being
    a life-long Steeler fan, and not a career-long Tomlin hater.

  39. “Those are just the facts”

    ===================

    Said by those who are mostly likely not to know the definition of “facts”.

    This year, Pittsburgh beat Cincy twice, Cleveland, and the Jets – – four teams who are below .500. If Indy and Buffalo lose this week, that will be two more teams who are below .500. Last year they beat the Raiders, Chargers, Browns twice, Rams, and 49ers. So unless there is some new math I’ve missed, that’s 10 wins against below .500 teams in the last two years.

    Ten is greater than six, person who is giving us “the facts”.

  40. I know growing up when I did, if they had some old-timer like Bradshaw talking about football in the 40s (Bradshaw’s last game was 33 years ago) – I wouldn’t pay much attention to him either. There are maybe a few dozen players who were even alive when he last played the game.
    But then again – Bradshaw couldn’t get along with Chuck Knoll.
    Maybe his contract is up and maybe he was told he needs to be “tweet-worthy” and “hot-takey” to get a new one.

  41. And I’m entitled to broaden the lens a bit and ask this question: When is the last time in the past 15 years that Bradshaw has said anything remotely insightful about the NFL?
    ===================================

    It’s an easy question to ask when you’re typing behind a computer and not even addressing him directly. And you would’s say that to him in person in a million years.

  42. And I quote:

    “The term ‘great,’ that’s something I have a great deal of respect for. I certainly don’t think that my résumé to this point reads as great. But very few coaches’ résumés read as that at this point. Guys like Bill (Belichick) in New England probably can say that, Pop (Gregg Popovich) down in San Antonio (with the Spurs). I think the rest of us are just working stiffs, to be quite honest with you.”

    Mike Tomlin — December 28, 2016

    So Bradshaw’s taking a lot of flak, even from Mike, whom I deeply respect. But MT seems to have a clear view of his aptitude and record, so what’s the controversy? Seems to me the controversy is not that Bradshaw is wrong, but that even being right is not an excuse to flap your yip on the national airwaves on certain matters — most of ’em actually.

  43. Only thing is, he didn’t call Tomlin a working stiff or
    even a bad coach, but a ‘cheerleader’ of a coach –
    which even you would interpret as a slight, an insult … a diss – coming from a Steelers legend and
    Tomlin has every right to feel disrespected.

    Love Bradshaw, but he was out of bounds
    with his remarks.

  44. Big Ben never asked Bradshaw for autographed game day stuff as he did Brady. So the blowhard Bradshaw is trying to even the score. Unfortunately, he is such a bafoon, he picked the wrong guy to pick on.
    Fortunately for Bradshaw, the role of bafoon is not one that requires any acting on his part.

  45. factschecker says:
    Dec 27, 2016 3:05 PM
    I have no dog in this fight

    Tomlin 102-57 (.642)
    Cowher 149-90 (.623)

    But .642 is greater than .623. I personally feel they were/are both good coaches. Some act like one is great and the other is trash but those are just opinions that they can’t really back up with facts.

    Some are better than others at deciphering between what is reality and what they want to be reality.
    _________________

    One had to sift through QBs like O’Donnell, Slash and Maddox before he drafted Ben. The other inherited Ben and a SB ready team. Not hard to figure out which coach built it up and which coach fed off what the previous coach built. Tomlinson hasn’t won anything of meaning in years, regular season win % aside.

  46. The terrible part about this whole thing is, some Steeler fans actually agree with Bradshaw. I’m a lifelong Steeler fan and while I don’t agree with every move Coach Tomlin makes, I certainly think he’s head and shoulders above the majority of the coaches in the NFL. There are lots of clowns that have bounced all over the league looking for the right “fit” for their coaching style. Mike has been winning for 10 years! Chuck brought us 4 championships and we loved him. Bill brought us 1 and we loved him. For some reason, Mike can’t get the same love…

  47. Yeah Bradshaw is goofy but he isn’t stupid. Sorry, Superficial Kneejerkers, you do not, CAN NOT, qb 4 Super Bowl winners AND be dum. Most of y’all were not around to watch Bradshaw in those years. I did only occasionally via tv, and i am telling you he had a cannon for an arm with ballistic missile accuracy. He had his share of picks, but much more than his share of success. His goofy personality saddled him with the “stupid” charge since he was in college, and no player with two eyes and half a brain ever thought he was dumb in any of those Steeler years beyond his rookie one.

    As for Tomlin, it’s encouraging to a Patriots fan that y’all love Tomlin. As we proved again in September when we dismembered you in Pityburg, we love Tomlin too. We’d be looking forward to beating you senseless AGAIN in the AFC championship, except that Tomlin won’t be able to cheerlead ya past KC before that.

  48. What would Bradshaw’s feelings regarding Tomlin be if Tomlin were White? Given Tomlin’s actual record, better than Cowers, and Bradshaw never went public over Cowers, one could wonder if Bradshaw’s actual issue is the color of Tomlin’s skin and Bradshaw isn’t enamored with his former team having a Black head coach. Terry is from a different generation after all.

  49. Yet another opinion piece on this topic that provides no details as to why Tomlin’s a great coach.

    Everyone just says, “look at the team’s record”. But with other great coaches, there are many ready, detailed answers about their strategy, their methods, their playcalling, their systems, etc. With Tomlin, it’s always just… “look at their record”.

    I see Tomlin’s quality whenever they go up against a serious team in big games. Like getting lucky the Bengals unraveled last year. And their subsequent playoff loss. And the way they lost to the Pats to start last season, looking very undisciplined.

    They’re fine when things go their way. But against a truly great coach, their lack of discipline and lack of backup plans shows itself.

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