Mike Tomlin takes away Steelers’ locker room games

Mike TomlinThere are no more fun and games around the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room following the team’s 0-4 start. According to a report, head coach Mike Tomlin decided to take away the team’s play toys and won’t give them back until the team gets back on track.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac reports that Tomlin removed pool cues, ping-pong paddles, and shuffleboard discs from the locker room until they turn things around.

As ridiculous as the whole thing sounds, the table games have actually been a topic of discussion throughout the season for the Steelers. Last month, a report said the team’s veterans decided that young players would not be allowed to play the games during business hours. Now Tomlin has removed them entirely.

[Related: Ben Roethlisberger: You can call us worst team in the league]

I guess this is Tomlin’s way of telling his players they’re grounded and getting their car keys and cell phones taken away until they prove they can be more responsible.

Oh, and side note: had a coach like Greg Schiano done something like this, you know everyone would be all over him for treating his players like a bunch of college kids. Tomlin gets away with a move that would otherwise be considered juvenile because he’s awesome and a proven winner.

Mike Tomlin makes Twitter debut, announces his presence with authority

Mike Tomlin joined Twitter on Friday, and his first tweet was as authoritative as you would expect. Check out the debut from the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach:

Hey Mike, you didn’t even need to send that caution. We already know not to expect any b.s. from you. That’s what makes you my favorite coach in the league.

Tomlin is a quick learner, too. He already figured out how to tweet photos:

A couple of handsome men right there.

H/T Hot Clicks

Darren Sharper: Bad blood exists between Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh

As you may have expected, it seems like there is an explanation for the awkward handshake that took place between Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin last weekend. Darren Sharper, who played college ball with Tomlin at William and Mary, appeared on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” on Wednesday night and explained the history between his former teammate and Harbaugh.

“There’s bad blood between these two coaches,” Sharper said, via USA TODAY. “You think about the fact that the teams do not like each other, so that carries over to the coaches because they’re the ones preaching to the team before the games. And before this game there was a little bit of an incident in which Coach Harbaugh had some comments after they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers which he knew the camera was on, too.”

After the Ravens beat the Steelers 13-10 at Heinz Field a few weeks ago, television cameras captured Harbaugh telling his players that they were the more physically tough team, the more mentally tough team, the better team and the team that knows how to win football games.

“Coach Tomlin, like all coaches do, they watch everything,” Sharper continued. “They read the papers — they try to say they don’t — they read the papers, they look at television, and he thought that was a message towards his team.

“I know this for sure. I talked to Mike, and after the game I asked him about the handshake, and he said that there is some bad blood there. And he did not appreciate what Coach Harbaugh said postgame after the first victory.”

Based on Sharper first-hand knowledge, it sounds like the excuse Tomlin gave about wanting to get to the locker room before his players so he could welcome them is bogus. Harbaugh’s comments after the first game were the same ones we hear from coaches after victories all the time. There’s no love lost between Steelers and Ravens. Perhaps Tomlin is simply falling into line.

John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin exchange tense postgame handshake (Video)

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens in an extremely hard-fought game on Sunday, and anyone can understand why Ravens head coach John Harbaugh may have been frustrated after it ended. However, Harbaugh approached the postgame handshake with a good attitude and attempted to congratulate Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, who for whatever reason wasn’t having it.

The exchange between the two coaches after the game was awkward, to say the least.  I don’t know if I would add it to our list of handshakes that have gone wrong over the years, but you could definitely sense some tension. That’s not uncommon with a heated rivalry like the one the Steelers and Ravens share, but why was Tomlin being so cold after his team — led by veteran backup quarterback Charlie Batch — won on the road against one of the best teams in the AFC?

Harbaugh was congratulating Tomlin, who is obviously a passionate guy. He clearly didn’t appreciate the way Tomlin tried to just shake his hand and jog away, and I can’t say I blame him. Fortunately for NFL fans, this simply adds another interesting element to one of hardest-hitting rivalries in football.

Mike Tomlin was worried about Steelers’ season ending in Denver on 80-yard OT TD

This isn’t some story about Mike Tomlin clairvoyantly knowing the Steelers would lose to the Broncos on an 80-yard touchdown in overtime. Nope, it’s a story about how Tomlin’s worst fears came true.

CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz called the Steelers-Broncos playoff game, and he told The Denver Post Tomlin was afraid of losing on a game-ending touchdown in overtime.

Nantz apparently grilled both John Fox and Mike Tomlin during production meetings about their plans for overtime given the new rules. Would the coaches defer knowing that one stop and a score would end the game, or would they want the ball first? Nantz was trying to sell Tomlin on deferring, but the Steelers coach wasn’t hearing it.

“He said, ‘No way I am doing that. I’m not putting my whole season at risk giving the other team the football because if one guy busts an assignment or something else and one play they go 80 yards and a touchdown and my season is over. I’m not going to let that happen. I’m taking the football,’ according to Nantz.

“I said, ‘Come on. You gotta be kidding. The longest pass play of the season for the Broncos and Tebow was 56 yards against Kansas City.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to put my season on the line for a one-play, 80-yard touchdown pass.’”

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened and the Steelers were sent packing on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas. If Tomlin was so fearful of a game-ending touchdown, you have to wonder why the players weren’t as well.

Ryan Clark Wanted to Play in Denver but Mike Tomlin Won’t Let Him

Mike Tomlin has confirmed once again why he is my favorite coach in the NFL. The Steelers are playing the Broncos in Denver Sunday for the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Putting aside that it’s utterly asinine for a 12-4 team to face an 8-8 team on the road, the real issue is that safety Ryan Clark will not travel with the team because of a health concern.

Clark has a sickle cell trait that is affected in high altitudes. He had to be rushed to the hospital during a 2007 game in Denver and had his spleen and gallbladder removed. Despite the serious nature of his condition, he wanted to play in the playoff game but coach Tomlin wouldn’t let him.

“I mean, everybody knows I want to play and I would have played,” Clark told ESPN. “I talked to my doctors and we actually had a plan in place for me to play. All things pointed to me going until (Tomlin) told me I can’t. He said he wouldn’t have let his son play and so I’m not playing either.”

Clark tweeted a similar sentiment later on Tuesday.

“On this treatment table thinking about the game,” he wrote. “Thinking of how blessed I am to still be here & how Id play if I Muke T would let me. Mike Tomlin is without a doubt one of the best most unique head coaches ever. I’d run through a wall for him. Great coach, better man!”

If you think this was an easy call for Tomlin, think again. Clark is the team’s leading tackler. He says they had a medical plan in place for him to play. Most coaches would have let the player assume the health risk and told him the team needed him on the field. Rather than looking out for his job, and the team’s success, Tomlin is looking out for his player’s best interest. He’ll probably be rewarded for doing the right thing.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that this wouldn’t be an issue if the NFL’s seeding system weren’t out of whack?

Mike Tomlin: James Harrison is Not a Dirty Player

James Harrison is recognized as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. He was suspended a game this season for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colt McCoy. He’s committed five illegal hits in three years, and he was fined six times the last two seasons. Harrison even made an illegal hit on Josh Cribbs when the players were teammates in college. But is Harrison a dirty player? Mike Tomlin says no.

Asked during a conference call by the Cleveland media if Harrison is dirty, Tomlin said no. The Steelers coach was then asked to explain the rash of illegal hits by his star linebacker.

“They’re unfortunate plays. I think the circumstances around those plays and all of that’s been well documented. I base my judgment on his quality of play, based on his total body of work, from being around him day to day for the last five years. I can say comfortably that I don’t believe that James Harrison is a dirty player.”

Tomlin believes there are collisions in football and that not all of them will be legal.

I understand where Tomlin is coming from and I agree with him to a certain extent. Sometimes hits are unavoidable if you’re trying to make a play. But Harrison has a pattern of committing helmet-to-helmet hits. If he leads with his shoulder instead of his dome, he’ll avoid them, but he hasn’t changed his style. That’s what makes him dirty, contrary to what Mike Tomlin says.