One thing about which I believe there has been entirely too big of a deal made during the 2017 season is the impact of comments made by players and coaches on the on-field product. The Pittsburgh Steelers from the players to the coaches have been heavily scrutinized from all corners over comments that they have made. But the likely reality is that those comments made little to no difference in how anything ended up transpiring.
The Steelers dealt with a lot of self-inflicted ‘drama’ this season, but if we’re being honest, the vast majority of it didn’t matter. The only real consequence of all of that was wide receiver Martavis Bryant being benched for one game because of his social media comments, and the team was fine without him for that game.
The one time when drama was truly an issue this season for the Steelers, which even the players acknowledged, was during the anthem controversy, and that was a drama that was inflicted upon them from the outside, and not from the locker room. That blowback came after the game, and they won their next game after the Chicago loss.
Does it matter if Le’Veon Bell says that he wants $17 million, or that he might hold out if given the franchise tag? Does it matter if Mike Tomlin—very realistically—acknowledged the distinct possibility that his team would see the New England Patriots again in the AFC Championship game? Does it matter that Mike Mitchell may have talked some trash to a team that is known for having some of the best trash talkers in the NFL in the Jacksonville Jaguars?
No. No, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect what happens on the field, nor does it affect the way that the team is able to prepare for what happens on the field. The worst thing that happens is that a few players have to answer a few questions about it. Big deal.
As Tomlin said yesterday, “the norms are changing. And we’ve got to change with it. I’m less resistant to old norms and I’m not worried about those types of things because they are really irrelevant. The amount of attention we all get is tenfold what it was 10-15 years ago”.
I think that is pretty much undeniable. I don’t recall Bill Cowher having to Tweet at Santonio Holmes to shut up, for example. You will say what you will say and the rest of the world will have their say about what you said. There’s not much you can do about it.
“We realize oftentimes it may create a storm around us, but that’s not us”, Tomlin said. “We don’t care. We can’t care. We can’t control it anyway. It’s an impossibility in today’s sports climate”. He’s absolutely right, and we fully acknowledge that we’re a part of it. But if I were him, I certainly would not be reading what I have to say about him.