Tomlin: “A One Foot In Front Of The Other” Kind Of Guy?

By Jeremy Hritz

Mike Tomlin once said that he is a “one foot in front of the other kind of guy,” but after the Thursday Night contest in Baltimore, those words have assumed new meaning.

Almost five days after the 22-20 loss to the Ravens, Tomlin’s sideline shuffle is becoming more ridiculous, and not because of the media attention it is garnering.

What is more absurd about the situation is that the coach that consistently preaches that “the standard is the standard” has descended below what the true standard of excellence in Pittsburgh is, and he is in jeopardy of becoming a “do as I say, not as I do” type of coach.

After the contest, Tomlin stated that he simply did not know where he was standing and that he “lost his placement” while watching the Jacoby Jones return on the Jumbotron. Unfortunately, the subsequent smile caught on camera did little to convince spectators that there was no deliberate intent.

Now, as new footage has emerged showing Tomlin clearly positioning himself as close to the field of play as possible, it becomes more difficult to believe that his near trip was an honest mistake. Combine this with his full step onto the field with his right foot milliseconds prior to Jones running by him, and his argument of ignorance has more holes in it than the Steelers offense line did in the first four weeks of the season.

Did the move ultimately have any impact on the return itself? Probably not.

But that is not the point.

Sure, there was also no true impact on the outcome of the game, but the effects go beyond a simple win or a loss. If this shady form of gamesmanship was intentional, which it appears to be, what does it say about Mike Tomlin and his integrity?

What do his players, to whom he preaches humility and poise, think of his behavior? And how does the organizational leadership of the team interpret this incident?

There has been much speculation about what the punishment will be for Tomlin, and it has been rumored that everything from a hefty fine, suspension, or even a loss of a draft pick could be the cost for what appears to be his momentary lapse of judgment.

While a fine and even a suspension can be absorbed by the team, the loss of a draft pick could prove to be damaging, depending on which round it would be taken from. But more than that, for a coach that has chastised players for their selfish decisions that have resulted in personal fouls, losing a draft pick would be much more detrimental than losing 15 yards.

There is no doubt that every human being can and will makes mistakes, and Tomlin is no different. And while he has apologized for his behavior and accepted responsibility following the game, his words seemed to lack sincerity and authenticity.

The press conference this week will go a long way in revealing the fiber of Tomlin’s character; hopefully, it is consistent with how he has conducted himself throughout his career in Pittsburgh, and not how he did Thursday Night.

  • Russ Ruffing

    What a moronic article this is. Are you that stupid to not see that when he realized where he was, he simply tried to jump out of the way to his left? The laws of physics require that if you suddenly make a right angle jump to the left, it requires the right foot to push off from?

  • DoctorNoah

    With all due respect, this is a load of bunk. Despite all the hoopla, the footage is anything but damning. In fact, as far as I can see it basically stumbles onto the field looking actively at the Jumbotron and does everything he can to jump out of the way when he feels the pressure of a Jacoby Jones running towards him. Not only would I bet this all blows over with just a fine, I also think it really has nothing to do with Tomlin’s character

  • 4-12

    This article is trash man. If coach is looking at the jumbo tron he is not going to see himself on camera if the play is behind him unless the play is within 10 yards

  • RealSteel

    I love when people try to get into someone else’s head to determine intent. Only Mike knows his intent, and if that smile was satisfaction or embarrassment.

  • MexSteeler

    If I would have done this on purpose I would make sure to play it off on the sideline through out the game. I would laugh about it in private. If it was an honest mistake I may laugh at myself and the situation as it was transpiring. Coach Tomlin messed up and he recognized that. Give it a rest!!!

  • lefnor

    Good article.
    “Standard is standard” LOL.

  • Whcr Communicators

    dumb dumb article …what a waste of space… is Dave going to post everything Jeremy writes…get a life

  • dennisdoubleday

    I agree with you. I don’t think it is possible to look at the footage objectively and not conclude that he did it on purpose. He very carefully stepped right to the edge and then stood stock still and straight until Jones was almost on him, then you can see him looking backward out of the corner of his eye and moving just before Jones arrives. It doesn’t look at all like a man accidentally wandering while staring at the scoreboard.

    He should just own up and say it was a lapse in judgment.

  • AzheDraven

    Honesty I do believe it was an accident. I mean, someone said before that to jump to the left he has to move his feet. Also, putting myself in his situation, I would totally freak out, like “OMG What do I do?!” And then just jump out of that. But I would lose some time trying to react.
    Maybe he saw himself on the screen and freaked out, and then he tried to see how close was … Jones? (I don’t remember his name, lol) and after he saw him he tried to react but it looked a bit slow.
    And the smile I believe is that kind of smile that says “Yeah, Try to blame me and make me look like the bad guy”

  • JohnnyV1

    Please stop beating the “loss of draft pick” drum. It was stated in several posts already. It’s not going to happen based on previous incidents of a similar nature, and to a head coach that has not shown himself to be a menace to the shield. He’ll get a fine. He’ll apologize and accept responsibility. Next….

  • Jeremy…this is a brave column and one with an important point. The Raiders had the “Just Win Baby” motto through Al Davis’ years and although it produced victories in the seventies and eighties it eventually drifted to be meaningless and…as it turns out…rather winless. Perhaps I am being Pollyanna here, but the Steelers to me have always represented something more than “winning at all cost”. They’ve been about family and character and a unique community of fans. The Lombardis were all hard fought and well earned. Obviously ownership plays the significant role in all of this but the head coach is right up there in influence. I was embarrassed by Mike Tomlin’s actions and what it meant to our team. Instead of being about a FANTASTIC hustle play for Cortez Allen, it spoiled the game for me, win or lose. In an instant, it made the Steelers look like the Patriots. In my opinion this has been a rough year for Mike Tomlin. I still think he’s a tremendous coach, and I hope he’s here for another ten years, but he has struggled with adversity. We can’t hold the players to a higher standard if the coach won’t do so himself. AT BEST, it was a completely boneheaded play with a head coach impeding the game’s play and insulting the integrity of the sport. His responses to this with the goofy smile and angry retorts at the press conference has done nothing but add to this opinion. We all have flaws (and I have more than my fair share) and repairing them begins with admitting their existence. This is obviously a development year for the Steelers and I hope the coach seizes the opportunity as well.

  • Rick M

    Respectfully Azhe, I just don’t agree. Everything from the one step to the right in mid-return, to the head cranked for a couple of seconds to see the returner, to the perfect sideways jump out of the way at exactly the right time is way too precise for this to be unintentional. If it was an OMG moment, the last move (getting out of the way) would never have been that precise a movement. But you see it otherwise, and I respect that.

  • Virdin Barzey

    I’m more embarrassed by this asinine post and all the stupid things being said in this thread…than what Mike Tomlin supposedly did. Shouldn’t be surprised since we have a bunch of non-Steelers trolling this site.

    Based on the view of the footage, Mike must be a complete genius to have his back turned long before Jones comes down the sideline and then timed it perfectly to try and trip Jones in front of the referees with the cameras rolling on the man carrying the ball expecting not to get caught.

    You guys are idiots if you believe Mike Tomlin is that dumb. There’s the real lapse in judgement.