Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cat Already out of Bag; Tomlin a Fine Coach

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cat Already out of Bag; Tomlin a Fine Coach

Article excerpt

Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, an old Dallas Cowboys linebacker, once said Terry Bradshaw "couldn't spell cat if you spotted him a 'c' and an 'a'."

Given his asinine take on Mike Tomlin, I'm not sure Bradshaw could pull it off even if you threw in the 't.'

What a bumbling fool. But before we get to the silliest football conversation you will ever hear - thank you, FS1 - let's put one of Bradshaw's remarks to the test in the wake of Tomlin's Steelers clinching their second AFC North Division title in the past three years.

"He's really a great cheerleader guy," Bradshaw said, in mock praise, on the show "Speak For Yourself." "I don't know what he does."

OK, we'll spell it out for you, Terry.

First and foremost, Tomlin W-I-N-S.

He T-E-A-C-H-E-S.

He helps devise G-A-M-E P-L-A-N-S.

He lets assistants D-O T-H-E-I-R J-O-B-S, which is always the mark of a secure L-E-A-D-E-R.

He has a direct hand in personnel acquisitions (we can learn those words next week, Terry). He M-O-T-I-V-A-T-E-S, for sure, and he E-D-U-C-A-T-E-S.

Every Friday, for example, a bunch of defensive players visit with Tomlin for a post-practice strategy session. It used to be just the defensive backs. Others soon joined. They sometimes talk for more than an hour, cornerback Ross Cockrell explained after the dramatic win Sunday.

"Since I was 7 and started football, I've never been around a coach who talks football like that, little tips, game-planning, strategy, everything," Cockrell said. "He gives you all the insight you could want. Much more than a 'cheerleader.'"

"We learn a lot [during the Friday sessions] - what the coaches are thinking, understanding certain calls," linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "[Tomlin] knows the game so well. It's almost like he's too football-smart. He's very calm under adverse situations."

One would expect such sentiment coming from the home team's locker room, of course. Who's going to say something bad about their coach? But these weren't just platitudes. They were passionate endorsements.

"If you watch him, he spends hours upon hours in his room - or as he calls it, the hole - and he's a real student of the game," guard Ramon Foster said. "Come spend a week with him. See how it goes down. Then you make an opinion about him. But to say [what Bradshaw said] is ludicrous."

Or just look at the facts. Tomlin in 10 years has won 102 games. And two AFC championships. And a Super Bowl. And as we sit here today, only two other teams - Green Bay Packers pending - have made the playoffs three consecutive years (New England, Seattle).

One time in Tomlin's 159 regular-season starts have the Steelers gone into a game eliminated from playoff contention (Week 17, 2012). One time. He presided over a total rebuild of a decrepit defense and did not suffer a losing year. Twice he made the playoffs when his quarterback missed a full quarter of the season. …

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