Collier: Tomlin all a-twitter over Browns

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No one has to remind Mike Tomlin what some franchise quarterbacks are liable to do in their spare time, so who gets flagged for taunting in a week when the Ben Roethlisberger suspension expires just as the Brett Favre suspension begins to crystallize?

Don't tell me the football gods.

Favre may yet escape the full wrath of King Roger, but no matter how that sordid situation plays out, this is a time when you can almost feel for head coaches in the NFL, head coaches who always can find plenty to worry about without Twitter and Facebook and video-ready cell phone technology.

Tomlin, who somehow coaxed a team that was down to its fourth quarterback to within one first down of 4-0, who gets his varsity passer back this week, who welcomes a Sunday visit from the Cleveland Browns, still spent most of the noon hour Tuesday describing looming catastrophes.

He is nervous about not having played last week, for one thing, and for another 101 things related to the 1-4 Browns, in whose detailed description the following terms were used: battle-tested, new components, rough-and-tumble guy, vertical threat, big-time strength, rock-solid football, very disruptive, big-time resume, big-time trouble, smashing people, and, perhaps most chillingly, sub-package football passing down things.

Let me check my schedule again. Yes, it's the Browns.

But Tomlin is right, again.

Last time he saw them, the Browns were beating his team, repeatedly throwing Roethlisberger to the frozen shore of Lake Erie. In the tumultuous months since, Tomlin fielded a middle-of-the-night phone call from the sheepish quarterback who likely was hoping to be merely suspended. That was before his Super Bowl MVP wideout tweeted himself right out of town. Which is worse -- what happens in real space, or in cyberspace?

"We've got a general rule -- I don't mind them tweeting, just don't tweet business," Tomlin said Tuesday. "If you stay within that general guideline, I'm not opposed to guys tweeting or facebooking or whatever they do, just don't tweet about my business."

That would be this coach's good-faith attempt to treat his players like adults, but, even in the NFL, that's going to be giving some people too much credit.

You would not think you would have to tell Holmes not to tweet that a fan drank something to kill himself, that fans don't cut his check ('Tone, here's a clue: no fans, no check), that implies he is smoking dope when the league has already tagged him as a doper. But apparently you do.

You would not think you would have to tell former Penn State running back Larry Johnson that a common gay slur he used on Twitter is considered offensive by gays.

But, apparently, you do.

You would not think you would have to tell a 41-year-old grandfather not to photograph his privates and send that photo to the cellphone of a former Maxim and Playboy model while she was the sideline reporter for the New York Jets.

No one has proof that Favre did that, but the league office is looking very aggressively at a story that broke on Deadspin.com alleging Favre had highly inappropriate communications not only with the sideline reporter but with two of the Jets' massage therapists.

But no one looks terribly admirable in this how-I-got-that-story narrative. Not Deadspin, not Jenn Sterger, not Favre, and certainly not the New York Post, whose lurid double-entendre headlines Tuesday again made alleged sexual harassment a locker-room joke.

Favre apparently made a tearful apology to his Minnesota Vikings teammates part of his pregame preparation Monday night, then went out and stunk just enough to keep his teammates from beating the Jets.

In the next few months, Favre likely will retire for the third and final time. Ineffectiveness will be the likely cause, or ineffectiveness brought on by injury, or ineffectiveness brought on by grandfatherhood if you like. It will be a shame if after all he has accomplished in the game, Favre leaves the NFL as the first guy whose career closed as a matter of death by cell phone.

The league keeps trying to protect people like this from technological suicide. No tweeting is allowed from 90 minutes before the game until after postgame interviews are completed. So expect a stiff fine this week for Cincinnati Bengals wideout Terrell Owens, who posted minutes before the game Sunday against Tampa Bay, and subsequently for teammate Chad Ochocinco, who continues to look for loopholes in the league's Twitter policy.

I used to wonder when coaches slept. Now I wonder how.


Gene Collier: gcollier@post-gazette.com .


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