Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mike Florio Gets It Wrong In Vilifying Steelers Coach Tomlin

As I quietly perused the news feeds and timelines of Facebook and Twitter I came across a tweet by a friend of mine by the name of Amanda. A woman who is as intelligent as she is lovely, Amanda has no problem expressing her opinion. So when I read “@pghsteelersgrl: Mike Florio is a fu**ing idiot", I figured that I must have missed something.

I redoubled my efforts and found that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk had taken Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to task for things he said during his William & Mary Hall of Fame induction speech. Tomlin started at wide receiver at W&M for three years.

The taking of Tomlin to task isn't necessarily a problem. Taking his words out of context is.

In an article entitled "Tomlin is a “win-at-all-costs” guy" Florio wrote, "Per Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback...Tomlin gave a rather eye-opening glimpse into his mindset." By this alone one can assume that Florio possibly didn't delve any deeper than quotes mentioned therein...which gives also gives a bit of a glimpse into his own mindset.

He goes on to take pieces of the speech as piecemeal to make a patchwork article. But as with most patchwork material, it doesn't hold together very well. What Florio fails to realize, based on not doing the necessary research, is that Tomlin is speaking with his tongue somewhat in his cheek. Tomlin is disarmingly charming and charismatic and he's simply keeping all of this light and is joking with the crowd. But why should I expect a news source to do actual research? What was I thinking?

Florio next wrote, "One of the reasons I work in the National Football League — I’m tired of the NCAA rules." To that he replied, "It’s also clear that he’s tired of the NFL rules. Every gripe and complaint and piss and moan from Steelers players regarding the league’s rules for hitting offensive players naturally traces to...Tomlin. Last year, for example, safety Ryan Clark was celebrated in the film room for a hit that got him fined $40,000 by the league office."

The so-called "celebration" of a fined hit should be more accurately referenced as a teaching point to the team as it happened before the fine was handed down. Yes, it was flagged, but check the film: Clark leads with the shoulder and hits the receiver, the Ravens' Ed Dickson, just after the ball is caught and Dickson has had both feet to come down to the ground. He was not "defenseless." Was it helmet-to-helmet? The easy answer is that it was, but the helmet contact was minimal at best. Realistically, it is impossible to completely avoid at least some helmet contact when highly-conditioned athletes are going at full speed. The Steelers as a whole were disappointed with the fine and supported Clark.

Getting back to the specific matter at hand, Florio sums up the article by writing, "As the NFL tries to make the game safer, Tomlin needs to realize that his “win-at-all-costs” mindset needs to be tempered by a genuine respect for whatever rules may apply."

Very noble...if not very misguided.

You be the judge, though. I'm posting the parts of the speech in question, and the YouTube link below. And after you do so, go follow Amanda on Twitter via @pghsteelersgrl.
TOMLIN: "We’ve got our chief financial officer in the building from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Where is my man Mark Hart? Is he in the building? Hart? He exited stage left. (laughter from crowd) His son, Kevin, is in the next incoming class of football players at William & Mary. And I'm proud to say that hopefully I had a part in that and I didn’t break any rules in the process. (laughter) Um...I think. (laughter) That's one of the reasons that I work in the National Football League, I'm tired of the NCAA rules. I'm a win-at-all-costs kind of a guy. The NFL is just right for me. Although, I’m not a bounty guy in any form or fashion. (laughter) Any form or fashion. (laughter) What you’ve got to understand about the Pittsburgh Steelers is that they'll get you for nothing. I ain’t gotta offer them anything. Guys like James Harrison and company, they enjoy it. Nah...I love the group of men that I work with...."

2012 Tribe Athletics Hall of Fame: Mike Tomlin