Before Sunday’s bizarre loss at home to the Buccaneers, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin appeared on the FOX pregame show via a previously recorded interview with Laura Okmin.
During the exchange, Okmin raised the perception that Tomlin is a “players’ coach.” Tomlin seemed to have a problem with that label, even though plenty of successful coaches have been described that way in past years.
“That is the first I ever heard if it,” Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said on Monday’s PFT Live. “He also mentioned young coach too, that kind of took that as a not an insult, but he wasn’t real happy with people calling him a players’ coach because he thought it was a little racist and because he was a young coach. There were times Bill Cowher was considered a players’ coach here, and I never thought of it as being a bad thing. Maybe he takes it as such, maybe he thinks people believe he’s coddling the players, which is not the case, I don’t think, any more than Bill Cowher coddled players. I was a little surprised by that.”
To make his point, Tomlin said the defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau could be called a “players’ coach,” too, but that he isn’t because LeBeau is an “old white guy.”
All told, it was an odd moment from a coach who has been with the Steelers since 2007, who has been to the Super Bowl twice, and who won a Super Bowl in only his second year on the job. Players’ coach or not, Tomlin has been successful. And that’s all that matters.