Trippin’ On The Chalk
The top story in the NFL this week was of course the alleged tripping attempt by Coach Tomlin in the November 28th game against the Baltimore Ravens, as well as the hefty fine which was imposed December 4th in the amount of $100,000. One thing to be learned from all of this is that Coach Tomlin is well respected around the league, both by other Coach’s and players current and retired. The consensus being that Mike Tomlin is a fine and upstanding fellow, free of any infractions and a good hard nosed motivator. In addition to Tomlin’s impressive Coaching resume, he was also selected by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to sit on the Competition Committee. I would agree with everyone, Mike Tomlin is a fine upstanding man of integrity, and one heck of a Football Coach. That being said, let me say that what he did on the kick off return Thanksgiving night was a highly calculated attempt to trip the runner who was on route to the end zone and seven points. I do believe Cortez Allen would’ve eventually caught ground and made the tackle, but there’s no arguing Tomlin slowing the course of the run down by Jacoby Jones having to veer, albeit ever so slightly, to avoid hitting him. The rational that he was watching the jumbo tron and was accidentally too close to the line seems plausible, even Coach Harbaugh and his boys were willing to let it all slide. However to suggest that the view of the jumbo tron is better six feet from where he should legally be standing, is a tough one to swallow.
The other thing that shouldn’t be taken for granted about Coach Tomlin, is that he is a competitor, and driven to win. Sometimes peoples in the heat of battle loose control of their emotions, sometimes a low blow is thrown or a cheap shot taken, it’s human nature. The fact that Tomlin would so blatantly stand alone on the chalk, in full view of the entire world with his right foot meticulously placed 6-8 inches onto the field, shows a frustration for loosing that made him act out of impulse, rather conscious rational. When I first saw him standing there I said “shame on you Tomlin”, but the other part of me said, “way to go Coach, someone’s got to stop these guys”. How many times over the years was former Coach Bill Cowher seen coming onto field, either to argue with the referee or in some cases looking as if he was going into the action to make a tackle. The most famous example of Cowhers aggressive Coaching nature was on a Monday Night game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1997. After a game winning field goal attempt was blocked, the Jaguars recovered and the ball carrier starting to race toward the sideline right in front of the Steelers bench. Coach Cowher came about 3-4 feet onto the field with a clenched fist, apparently his attempt to tackle the ball carrier was going to include cold-cocking him first. Certainly Tomlin’s technique was much less melodramatic, but equally intended.
In The Moment
Admittedly an embarrassing moment for the Coach, as well as the entire organization and the Rooney family. Of course this franchise is no stranger to controversy, most recently the fines levied against former outside linebacker James Harrison were unparalleled. Just a couple of years after James was the defensive player of the year and a super bowl hero, he was being deemed a dirty player with the weight of the fines hanging over his helmet. Hines Ward was another player described as dirty, simply by virtue of playing aggressive and doing his job. This is the mindset in Pittsburgh, they’re aggressive but clean, they have had nothing given to them and have fought tooth and nail in a perfectly legal manner to accomplish what they’ve accomplished. It was once said of Hall Of Fame Steeler Joe Greene, “he hates to loose more than he loves to win”. So it’s a safe bet the moment got the best of Coach Tomlin, all of the loosing and inadequacy took it’s toll. If I were a mind reader my guess is Tomlin was thinking, “oh no, not again!”. Having his back turned somewhat extricated him from the play, having the foot slightly onto the field, then jumping back in astonishment certainly created the right effect. Highly calculated and shame on you Tomlin! I’m embarrassed for you but you know what, you’ve got to admire a Coach who is says: if my team can’t make a play, I will!
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