(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
It's well known that Mike Tomlin is a players coach, as former and past Steelers players constantly praise his communication skills and ability to relate to players. And for players that are not on the Steelers whether it be draft prospects or free agents, they often mentioned that they would love to play for Tomlin if they were given the opportunity.
While Tomlin has a natural ability to connect with his players, he's not afraid to be brutally honest when a message needs to be delivered.
JuJu Smith-Schuster was on “The Michael Irvin Podcast” recently and shared a story of how Tomlin once put a player on notice in a meeting in front of the entire team.
"He's a real players coach, you know, he's for the players obviously. He tells it how it is," Smith-Schuster told Irvin. "One meeting he said, 'Yo, you're going to lose your job if you don't get right, in front of all of us. And like, he not throwing no shade. He's just telling it how it is as a grown man."
Irvin couldn't believe that Tomlin said that to a player in front of the team. "Yeah, he said it to our punter," Smith-Schuster said. "Next thing you know our punter was gone the next week. But then he came back like the following week. And I was just like, damn, people are just going left and right. He don't play around. That's just the way he is. It's a grown man business, and that's how I knew he was real."
Smith-Schuster doesn't reveal who the punter was, but there's a good chance that it was Jordan Berry, who was released by the Steelers prior to the start of the 2020 regular season. In a corresponding move, the Steelers signed Dustin Colquitt as Berry's replacement, but Colquitt wasn't impressive during his short time in Pittsburgh and was released on Oct. 23. Berry was then brought back a day later. So, if that was the case, Smith-Schuster has the timeline off, but his story matches what Berry experienced.
Smith-Schuster also shared a story of how he was once late to practice at training camp and Tomlin told him he was going to heavily fine him.
"So one day I was late behind (Antonio Brown) and (Tomlin) walked up to me and he was like, 'I'm gonna fine you so hard I'm gonna make sure you're kids don't go to college,'" Smith-Schuster said.
Smith-Schuster says until this day, he's out there 10 minutes early on the JUGS machine trying to get right. Tomlin is as real as they come.