Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin chatted with the Steelers official website about the teams roster moves, cutting ties with veterans Hines Ward, James Farrior and Aaron Smith.
“You try to remove emotion from it more than anything, but that’s a difficult thing to do,” Tomlin said. “These guys have made a lot of plays for us. They’ve provided great leadership. They’ve been significant members of teams that have been very successful. As human beings, we all feel that and acknowledge that. When it comes to making the decision, it has to be football-based, with the building of the team moving forward. So, some of the things I just mentioned that endear them to you are really irrelevant in the hard-core, nuts-and-bolts aspect of moving forward. That’s what makes these decisions difficult, or testy, but it’s just part of this game and it has been and always will be. The wheels will continue to turn.”
“Just an unbelievable competitor. A guy who has unique will within an industry of men who have unique will,” said Tomlin about Ward. “He distinguishes himself in that way. It has been well-documented that his skill at times has not been extraordinary, and he embraces that, but he is a heckuvan athlete. A tremendous player. But I think the thing that separates him from just about every other man who has played in this league during the time he has played in this league is his unique will.”
Tomlin on Aaron Smith:
“A blue-collar, lunch pail guy from day zero to the last day. A guy who has a genuine love affair with the game of football,” said Tomlin about Smith. “All these guys love football. Aaron is one of the guys who loves every aspect of the game – the drudgery, the routine, the team-building, training camp. Aaron has a genuine love affair with the game of football that is unique. He’s the type of guy who is mature enough and has the type of perspective that he can appreciate it while it’s going on. That’s one of the things I’ve always respected about him. Often, guys appreciate it once it’s over. Aaron is one of those guys you acknowledge appreciated it while it was going on.”
Tomlin on Farrior:
“A unique leader,” said Tomlin about Farrior. “You’re talking about a guy in his mid-30s who has a unique ability to build a rapport with all members of a football team. When you’re talking about professional locker rooms, you’re talking about a wide spectrum of guys, guys in different places in their lives. There are guys who are older and married and settled with families, and there also are young guys who are making the transition from dependence to independence, from amateur athletes to professional athletes. James is a guy who has a unique talent to bring all of those people together, guys at different points in their lives.”