Before the game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had a one-on-one chat with Bob Labriola about pride. Pride in his team. Pride in the players. Pride in his coaching staff. Unfortunately, we all know pride comes before the fall. Looking back at some of Tomlin’s statements to Labriola, I believe it is time for Tomlin to re-evaluate whether or not at least some of that pride is misplaced.
Labriola asked Tomlin if there is room for pride in professional football when players and coaches are being paid to do a job. Tomlin said, “Anytime you’re in a competitive business like this, emotions and personal feelings are part of it. You have to give all of yourself in order to be successful, so in that vein, yes, pride and respect and things of that nature are a part of performance and are an element of the game.”
I agree and disagree. Respect is one thing. Being proud of accomplishments is another. Putting personal feelings and emotions of individuals above the team as a whole seems to be the wrong thing to be proud of right now. Because of this, too much ‘look at me’ or ‘cater the game to me’ has gone on. Professionals should be able to be consistent in their play regardless of pay or how much tweeking the coaching staff does to keep them happy. Antonio Brown should lead as a receiver regardless of who is at quarterback, and certainly swallow his pride if everyone else is expected to change to make him successful. The defense should not need pats on their backs to be able to make a tackle.
Labriola also asked Tomlin what type of things make him proud. Tomlin answered, “It’s not about what happens that makes coaches proud, it’s about how individuals or a team respond to things that happen during the course of a football game…”
If that is how Tomlin determines what makes him proud as a coach, this should be a week where he throws his clipboard in a meeting. The Steelers haven’t shown an ability to respond consistently every week this season. The ebb and flow is more like tsunami versus calm waters.
Maybe I sound a tad disappointed. Even disgruntled. But, to me, pride is about being confident that you have done enough, prepared enough and performed your task with excellence. James Harrison got upset over his kid getting a participation trophy. He wanted his kids to have pride in themselves for accomplishments and success, not be coddled for simply participating. It’s time Tomlin takes a note from that page and stop hurrahs over simply being in the game or talking on the sidelines. If he wants to instill a sense of pride the Steelers were once known for, he has to push for success. That means less than 100 percent is not enough. Not if you want to get anywhere close to respect in this league.