Press conferences in most major sports are boring. Coaches don’t say what they really think, and when they do speak, it doesn’t make sense most of the time. Mike Tomlin is a master of this, though he is more entertaining than the rest.
Tomlin: "Sometimes you've got to cut your eyelids off when you want to blink, when it gets thick."— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) December 17, 2018
That is definitely the first time any of us had ever heard such a thing.
But he also doesn’t like the concept of blinking, and that’s nothing new. He complimented his team on Christmas in 2016 after clinching the AFC North by saying, “It was just great to see the no-blink mentality, the competitive spirit,” because football is apparently just one big ol’ staring contest.
Then, there was this gem:
Mike Tomlin: "We like to believe that we are the common denominator in all stories involving us."— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 17, 2018
That’s like saying Harry Potter is the common denominator in Harry Potter stories.
The real talent in here is that Tomlin makes all these things sound normal when they come out of his mouth. They don’t really strike you as “wow, that’s really a thing he said and was serious about” until you see it in tweet form.
The common denominator thing would totally pass you by if you were just casually listening to a press conference you weren’t fully engaged in. We’re all guilty of missing these things at one point or another.
And it’s not a new thing for Tomlin. He’s got some classics like “the standard is the standard.”
The phrase is something that Tomlin has preached for some years now, and it’s even on display in the team’s font at Heinz Field:
And the origin of “the standard is the standard?” Well...
Asked Mike Tomlin where "the standard is the standard" comes from. Frankly said: "I don't know."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 27, 2015
Gotta love the honesty. And to Tomlin’s credit, it’s clearly stuck with the team enough if it’s plastered on a wall at their stadium. I guess if the team gets something out of it, it doesn’t really matter if it makes sense to anybody else or not.
Tomlin’s also made the NFL kind of like high school, by saying that his players haven’t played “varsity enough.”
His tight ends have previously played at either a JV or freshman level, but he’s never clarified:
Tomlin says the TEs hadn't been consistently varsity enough to this point for #Steelers— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 29, 2017
At least, one has to assume that they played at a JV or freshman level, right? If they aren’t playing “varsity enough” there’s no other option.
He also believes in living in hopes, instead of fears. Which definitely *sounds* nice.
After successfully executing a fake punt in 2007, Tomlin said the following:
“We don’t live in our fears, we live in our hopes,” coach Mike Tomlin said of the fake punt. “We saw the look and, in a week of preparation, we got in the situation that could produce the look that we would call it, and they did.”
I’m not going to pretend like I don’t know what he was trying to say there. He just meant that the Steelers play out of confidence, and not fear. But it’s still funny because that makes no sense as it is.
A lot of coaches say a whole lot of nothing at press conferences and other media appearances, but Tomlin does it better than anybody else.
And it’s one of the best ways to wrap up an NFL Sunday.