Skip to main content

Mike Tomlin: 'I don't run away from coaching, I run to coaching.'

The Pittsburgh Steelers coach shared his perspective on colleagues that complain about players' deficiencies rather than correct them.

The interview took place in the basement of his Pittsburgh mansion, but Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin does not like to get comfortable.

Tomlin joined the NFL as the 29-year-old defensive backs coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tasked with coaching a group that included John Lynch, a two-time All-Pro who was six months older than him. 

Tomlin made his way in the NFL by pushing himself, understanding that since he had no resume to rest his reputation on, he had to do so with his effort, his relentless pursuit of providing value for his players. 

More than 20 years, 154 wins, a Super Bowl ring and a future Hall of Fame jacket later, Tomlin approaches the job as if he's still a 29-year-old rookie DBs coach.

Speaking on The Pivot podcast earlier this month, Tomlin issued this perspective on the actual coaching part of the job that he's seen many coaches shy away from. 

"I love to hear coaches resist the responsibility of coaching," he said. "They talk negatively about a dude that can't learn. Man, if everybody could learn, we'd need less coaches. If the group didn't need management, then we wouldn't make as much. I love reading draft evals and somebody's talking about anything other than pedigree. Talking about how poor somebody's hand usage is. Well, that's coaching. I don't run away from coaching, I run to coaching. It all is in line with not seeking comfort because when you're a coach that's talking about somebody that can't learn, you're seeking comfort, because your teaching is struggling."

So, how does Tomlin approach coaching a millionaire player at the game's highest level? He tries to be the coach he wanted to have as a player. 

"When dudes are talking, I listen."

The exchange comes up around the 34-minute mark, but the entire conversation is worth listening to.