Many Fans Take Mike Tomlin for Granted. They Shouldn’t.
(Photo by Micheal Hickey/Getty Images)
In a league where a stable coaching staff is hard to come by, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the standard of consistency. Since 1969, the Steelers have only had three different head coaches. Current head coach Mike Tomlin is in the midst of his 14th season at the helm in Pittsburgh, and the position seems to be his as long as he wants it to be. During his tenure with Pittsburgh, Tomlin has compiled an impressive record. After the latest win over the Cleveland Browns, his record sits at 138-74-1. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he has never had a losing season. He seems to be on his way to achieving this feat once more as his team is sitting at 5-0 to start the season, but yet again it seems like Tomlin is not getting the recognition he deserves among Pittsburgh fans. Why is this? The answer to this question may not be as simple as it seems. Below we will not only look into how grateful Steelers fans should be with Tomlin roaming the sidelines but also how rare it is to find a coach like him.
Mike Tomlin’s accolades include a Super Bowl victory, another super bowl appearance, and an NFL Coach of the Year award. You would be hard-pressed to find more than a few other resumes that look better on paper. Just as impressive is that he had built this legacy all with one organization. The fact that he has not only been a head coach this long, but also for just one team is an anomaly in the NFL. According to “Business Insider," the median NFL head coach tenure sits at just 3 years. Amazingly, Tomlin is already the 3rd longest-tenured head coach in the NFL, sitting behind only New Orleans’ Sean Payton and New England’s Bill Belichick. Coaching consistency is rare in the NFL, and fans are always quick to call for their favorite team’s coach to get fired after every loss. What many do not understand is that coaching turmoil rarely leads to team success. Take the Cleveland Browns for example. Since Mike Tomlin was hired in 2007, Cleveland has had 9 different head coaches. Their record in that time? 61-146-1. On the contrary, we can take a look at the 6 NFL teams that have had their head coaches the longest. Those teams are the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs. It is no coincidence that those teams have won 13 of the last 19 super bowls.
With this information being available to fans, why are we so quick to get “Fire Tomlin” trending on Twitter after every loss? Part of that may be the fact that we now live in a world that relies on instant gratification to a very high degree. Firing the head coach would aid us in alleviating our frustration from a string of bad losses. But is that really the long-term solution we desire? The reality is, many fans, and organizations for that matter, are more interested in short-term solutions in order to find peace. We NFL fans are so quick to make snapshot judgments that we lose touch with the fact that the clear answer is obvious after a couple of minutes of critical thinking. After an ugly 0-3 start just a year ago many fans were calling for Tomlin to be removed. Many replacement names were being thrown around social media. Even trade speculations involving Tomlin and the Washington Football Team were floating around NFL circles. How did Tomlin and the organization respond? An 8-2 stretch across weeks 4-14 with a quarterback named “Duck” leading the offense. Even after the season, some fans were calling for Pittsburgh native Mike McCarthy to come home and coach his hometown team. I ask those same fans who favored him over Tomlin, is your opinion still the same? Of course, most would now prefer Tomlin. And maybe that further proves the flaws in NFL fans’ impulsive opinions when it comes to an organization’s players and personnel.
Pittsburgh fans are blessed to be able to cheer for the most accomplished organization in the NFL. They are also just as lucky to have their team owned by a globally respected family in the Rooney family. However, those two luxuries are impossible without one another. Dan and Art Rooney II’s unwavering support for their head coaches have led to six Super Bowl titles, tied for the most of any franchise. Consistency has been the key to prosperity for the Steeler’s organization, and it is a model that has been adopted by numerous other successful franchises. They have set an example of standing by their head coach through all of the ups and downs of life in the NFL, and their philosophy has never been altered. With the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers ranked atop the AFC through six weeks of play, now more than ever us fans should be thankful for the model of consistency that has given us so many cheerful moments. Just like the franchise we support; we should embrace the stable structure that our organization has built. In addition, we should strive to recognize that our knee-jerk reactions on Monday morning aren’t always the best solution. Mike Tomlin has earned every ounce of support he has gained from the Rooney family, and it is time “Steeler Nation” gives him the same amount of trust. As Tomlin loves to say, “The standard… is the standard." And that standard will never leave the city of Pittsburgh.