Mike Tomlin Channels Dan Rooney’s Life Of Thoughtfulness During Address

I talked to you yesterday about a very small part of the commencement speech that Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin delivered in front of the graduating class this year at Robert Morris University, during which he poked fun at himself by referencing his much-publicized private locker room moment with his team in which he referenced the Patriots as “assholes”.

But it was such an inconsequential element of his speech that in hindsight I felt it did injustice to the message that he was trying to get across. And it was, in fact, a very small element—perhaps an example—of the ultimate message that he wished to convey to the graduating class, and one that anybody could profit from.

As I went about trying to write this article and to put his words into context, it struck me that the best way to convey his message was simply to transcribe it. Tomlin concluded his speech by reflecting upon the influence that Dan Rooney had in his life.

He talked about being thoughtful in light of the lessons that he learned during the Facebook Live incident. As I recounted yesterday, he said that he’ll assume that his words would be heard by a wider audience than it was intended, and that he’ll “be thoughtful” and “behave accordingly”. That was merely the building block from which he transferred the lessons learned from Rooney to the graduates of Robert Morris University. Below is a full transcript that I rendered of the conclusion of Tomlin’s speech.

I’m humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to work for and alongside the great Ambassador Dan Rooney for 11 years. He was recognized just a few moments ago along with his lovely wife, Patricia. I’ve learned countless lessons from them over the years.

This is probably the most difficult moment of my address this evening: to put into words, to express what they’ve meant to me personally, and maybe a lesson or two that I’ve learned from them. And I’ve thought long and hard about how to capture it in a small number of words, and I settled on this:

A lot can be written and said about Ambassador Dan Rooney—his greatness—all of which I’m sure is true. In the recent days, I think the memory that I reflect upon the most is just how thoughtful he was. I fight every day to emulate it. I challenge you to do the same.

A very powerful and influential man, Dan Rooney. A lot on his plate. A lot of things that he wanted to do. Not only for his company, but for his community, his city, his nation. In the midst of pursuit of all of those things, he was always shockingly thoughtful.

I can’t give you enough examples to display his level of thoughtfulness. A phone call. A stop by your office. A small conversation. A hand-written note in the mail, when I just had lunch with him. How many of us in today’s society take the time to express ourselves to those that we care about, those that we interact with, in the form of the written word? A note, a few lines of thoughtfulness. An expression of appreciation for a job well done, or a few words of encouragement.

That was Ambassador Dan Rooney. That’s what I think about when I think about how he impacted me personally and professionally. I challenge you as we walk out of these doors this evening to utilize the talents you’ve been blessed with, to utilize the skills attained in the pursuit of your education, formally and informally.

I’ll ask you to do a lot of things. Keep a perspective on your emotions that you have. Trust your preparation. Pursue your passion. Apply pressure.

But I implore you; as you live life, be thoughtful. Be thoughtful of what it is you do. Be thoughtful of those that you’re around. Be thoughtful of the communities in which you live. Be thoughtful and considerate of the impact that you have. And let that be a conscious part of your daily decision-making.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • mezzetin1

    Good on ya, Coach Tomlin.

  • Applebite

    And be sure not to make Patriots out of ourselves in the future…

  • Constantinople

    Very sage advice

  • Steve Johnson

    LOL

  • VaDave

    I’m fairly certain what Dan found out in life is it’s amazing what you can accomplish on this earth if you make a habit of getting “Yourself” out of the way. Think what it would be like in this world if we all stopped asking what’s in it for me, and instead ask, what’s in me that can help you?

  • Dorian James

    You are always perfect for these articles Matt