It’s been a long time, but when Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was just beginning his NFL coaching career, he worked for his next opponent.
Tony Dungy hired Tomlin to coach Tampa Bay’s defensive backs in 2001. But Jon Gruden kept Tomlin in his position when he took over as head coach in 2002, as the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII. Tomlin was in that position until 2006 when he became the Vikings’ defensive coordinator. A year later, he succeeded Bill Cowher as the Steelers’ head coach.
But this week, Tomlin said he learned plenty from Gruden in their four seasons together.
“Gru has no fear,” Tomlin said, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He doesn’t. He looks at a problem and sees it as an opportunity. You can’t fake that. It’s every day for him. I probably already had that mentality, but he helped me hone it as a vocation, as a coach. His can-do approach, the positive energy he consistently brings to whatever challenge the job presents helped me and helped me in a big way as a coach when I worked for him as a young guy.”
The last time the Steelers faced the Raiders was in 2018. Gruden got the better of that matchup, with the Raiders defeating Pittsburgh in Oakland 24-21.