Talk of Tomlin 'losing team' is nonsense

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The chant of the frustrated and uninformed once again is being heard these days:

"Tomlin has lost his team."

It was heard even yesterday, days after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin banned ping-pong and assorted other games from the locker room and hours before he said future acts of stupidity similar to the goal-crossing somersault Sunday by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders would not be condoned.

Those actions do not exactly fit in with a coach who has "lost his team."

Just think about it for a minute: A rough definition of a coach who has "lost his team," would mean he's not getting the full effort from his players.

• Does it make sense that players would behave in such a manner in a league where contracts are not guaranteed beyond the current season?

• Does it make sense that players would behave in such a manner when every move they make during games and most of the ones they make during practices are recorded -- and scrutinized?

• Does it make sense that players would behave in such a manner in a sport where there's a coach for about every four players and any semblance of lack of effort or focus would be noticed in about 10 minutes?

• Does it makes sense that players, with the exception of the truly elite, would deliberately go out of their way to acquire such a reputation when they know word of their lackadaisical performance very shortly would spread to every front office in the league?

There probably have been instances in the NFL and elsewhere where a coach/manager lost his team. But often those are calculated risks by players who know their coach is in danger of losing his job. But, really, such a ploy on the Steelers? Where they change coaches about every 15 years?

No player or group of players would be stupid enough to think the Rooneys would not back their coach in any kind of quiet or open player rebellion. Coaching stability has been one of the strengths of the franchise and the players are well aware of that.

Most elite players, the ones who might get away with such behavior, are elite because they are high-motored, highly skilled athletes who know only one way to play and that's all out. If that were not enough, the spectre of their next contract is always looming.

None of the above is to suggest that if all these "safeguards" against players quitting were not in place, Tomlin would be in danger of losing his team. Far from it. He is a guy in control, not one about to lose it.

Tomlin has not lost his team and never has been in danger of losing his team.

As suggested above, anyone who uses that kind of hyperbole is only showing their lack of knowledge and understanding of the game of football.


First Published October 15, 2013 8:00 PM


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