Desire to Inspire: Tomlin, Whisenhunt Work on Pregame Pep Talks

By Gorman, Kevin | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 31, 2009 | Go to article overview

Desire to Inspire: Tomlin, Whisenhunt Work on Pregame Pep Talks


Gorman, Kevin, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


TAMPA, Fla. -- Their approach to the pre-Super Bowl XLIII speech is as contrasting as their backgrounds, one preparing with precision while the other makes "a conscious effort to wing it."

Whatever the method, both the Steelers' Mike Tomlin and Arizona Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt have made history in helping their teams play for the Lombardi Trophy in only their second season as head coach.

Where Tomlin, 36, will become the youngest head coach to play for the Lombardi Trophy, Whisenhunt has guided the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

While their deliveries will differ, Tomlin and Whisenhunt share the similarity of having served on the coaching staff of a Super Bowl champion and can reflect on that experience to provide an inspirational message.

"I hope I have something up my sleeve," Whisenhunt said, "at least, something that will help."

Whisenhunt learned to take fastidious notes from teammate Jeff Van Note when they were Atlanta Falcons teammates. Whisenhunt kept tabs on his notebooks whenever Bill Cowher spoke, whether it was in a minicamp meeting or before AFC Championship Games or Super Bowl XL.

"I use those things to help me get an idea of what direction I am going. I also think about our football team and where we've come from and what we've accomplished, and that governs it, too," Whisenhunt said. "Our guys are ready to play. I don't know that I have to say anything to get them ready to go. But I do believe that I've had a lot of help, some very good mentors, and that's kind of where I derive a lot of what I say."

Whisenhunt is credited with helping the Cardinals regain their focus after losing four times in a five-game span - and by an average of 25.3 points - between Nov. 23 and Dec. 21. They have won their past four games by an average of 11.5 points, including three in the NFC playoffs.

"Every meeting, he stayed on us," Cardinals rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. …

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