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Old 05-15-2007, 03:55 AM   #1
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Default Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

Cook: Tomlin turns negatives into positives in first test
STEELERS MINICAMP
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The career of one of baseball's great managers was made on a spring-training day in 1991 when Jim Leyland jumped in the face of Pirates superstar Barry Bonds in Bradenton, Fla. Bonds, the National League's Most Valuable Player the year before, had been sulking through a workout, acting like a spoiled brat because he wasn't happy with his contract. Leyland, though seething, let him go for a while -- he doesn't like putting his laundry out in public -- but he finally erupted on Bonds in front of the television cameras when he saw Bonds show up coach Bill Virdon.

"If you don't want to be here, get the hell out of here," Leyland screamed.

No one ever looked at Leyland -- or Bonds, for that matter -- the same way again.

They looked at Leyland in a much better light, the respect for him clear and estimable because of the way he stood up to a star player.

I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, the past weekend at Steelers minicamp will prove to be the same sort of career-defining moment for new coach Mike Tomlin.

No, there was no juicy public confrontation between Tomlin and pouting All-Pro guard Alan Faneca at the team's South Side headquarters. There merely was a brief, quiet chat during lunch Saturday after Faneca had followed up his angry tirade Friday against Steelers management and its negotiating tactics with him by missing a mandatory practice Saturday morning.

There's also no guarantee Faneca will respond the same way Bonds did. Bonds had an another MVP-caliber season in '91 and led the Pirates to a division championship. Faneca's bitterness might carry into training camp and the season, although it's hard to imagine it affecting his play because he has been such a terrific team guy and still must feel an obligation to give his best for his teammates if no longer for the Rooneys.

But that doesn't mean Tomlin didn't do a fabulous job handling a very difficult situation.

This couldn't have been the way Tomlin wanted to start his head coaching career. It's tough enough that he's a young coach replacing Bill Cowher, a legend of sorts around here. Now he had to face this kind of distraction at his first mandatory team function?

It didn't seem fair.

Then again, who said life is fair?

One of the reasons the Steelers released linebacker Joey Porter after last season was that management felt he might be a disruptive locker-room force heading into the final year of his contract. But the team couldn't release Faneca or trade him for less than equal value; he, arguably, is the Steelers' best player and is in the prime of his career. Management knew he was unhappy with his contract status but couldn't have imagined him going off like he did Friday. He said, among other things, that he wanted to be traded and didn't care to what team and that he couldn't see himself being a team captain for a franchise that clearly didn't want him. He didn't back off from his earlier comments that he wasn't happy the Steelers picked Tomlin to replace Cowher instead of one of Cowher's former assistants, Russ Grimm or Ken Whisenhunt.

Welcome to Pittsburgh, coach!

Tomlin never flinched.

He never lost his poise, not once.

Much like Leyland, but in a very different way, he left no doubt that he was the man in charge and that this ugly little episode wasn't going to change that.

Man, he was impressive.

"It's part of the territory in today's NFL," Tomlin said, shrugging.

The man is 35 -- only 5 years older than Faneca -- but he showed, at least in this instance, that he's wise beyond his years. He made it a point to treat the great Faneca with the proper respect. "Everything I've heard about him is he's a professional. ... It's an emotional deal for him -- and rightfully so. It's his livelihood." But, at the same time, he made it clear the Steelers were going to move forward, preferably with Faneca, but without him if necessary. "This is a lesson for us as a football team. Adversity is part of it. Distractions are part of it. ... The standard of expectation is not going to change regardless of what's going on."

Cowher couldn't have handled it better.

Tomlin still has much to prove as a coach. He must prove he can build a team, draft the right players, sign the right free agents. He must prove he can motivate his guys and get the best out of them all season long. He must prove he and his staff can do the X's and O's better than the coaches on the other sideline.

Tomlin still must win his first game, for heaven's sake.

But as far as standing tall in the tough times and not wilting under the pressure?

That won't be a problem for this guy.

He has already proven that.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07135/786029-87.stm
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Old 05-15-2007, 03:56 AM   #2
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Default Re: Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

Steelers' Tomlin emerging as players' coach

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Although not everything has been turned upside down on the South Side, even the beginning of Organized Team Activities for the Steelers next week figure to be a whole new ballgame.

"We have some exciting stuff that we're doing for the guys in terms of themes of the day, addressing situations that are involved in football," coach Mike Tomlin said before minicamp ended this past weekend.

Translation: Some players departed minicamp anticipating three times as much 11-on-11 "team" work as they had come to expect from OTAs in the Bill Cowher Era.

Apparently, there isn't as much time to devote to individual drills when you're incorporating, among other things, a three-tight end offense.

The new direction is understandable given the Steelers' fall from championship grace to 8-8 last season.

"You know you have those college teams that get into bowl games, but they're like 6-5? It just kinda felt like that," linebacker Clark Haggans said.

The goal remains the Super Bowl, and Tomlin intends to get the Steelers there the way he sees fit.

Amid the changes in staff, changes in approach and the sudden rift between management and Alan Faneca, Tomlin continues to afford the players freedom of expression as a trade-off for their attention and sweat.

His second minicamp ended as his first -- with the players wearing hats rather than helmets, a reward for the previous two days' devotion.

Receiver Nate Washington sported a sombrero during stretching. Receiver Hines Ward wore one of those replica leather helmets the Steelers are marketing. Kicker Jeff Reed wore a stocking cap and offensive tackle Willie Colon a safari hat.

A few of the players even changed practice jerseys -- corner Deshea Townsend with tackle Casey Hampton and Haggans with corner Ricardo Colclough.

The message was as familiar as it was unmistakable: Having a good time continues to be encouraged as long as the standard of performance is upheld.

"He's allowing us to be adults and professionals," safety Ryan Clark said. "He said he wants to see your attitude, and that means, 'I'm not going to handcuff you and make you a certain type of player. You do what I'm trying to get across, but you do it in your way.' "

Clark is a big fan of such coach-player reciprocation.

"When you get a coach that tries to handcuff players, when things are going good, they're going to be good," he said. "But when they start going bad, I think you can turn on a guy who you feel handcuffs you or limits you as an individual."

The Tomlin Era Steelers, apparently, will continue to be a team comprised of individuals.

That's a foundation worth maintaining.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_507638.html
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Old 05-15-2007, 05:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

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Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
His second minicamp ended as his first -- with the players wearing hats rather than helmets, a reward for the previous two days' devotion.

Receiver Nate Washington sported a sombrero during stretching. Receiver Hines Ward wore one of those replica leather helmets the Steelers are marketing. Kicker Jeff Reed wore a stocking cap and offensive tackle Willie Colon a safari hat.
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 05-15-2007, 05:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

Sounds and looks like a happy, determinded and relaxed atmosphere to me.
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Old 11-18-2007, 08:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

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Originally Posted by Carolina Steelers View Post
I think Coach should have called one (timeout) i know it was a chip shot but hey cant take the timeouts home with you.
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Originally Posted by Steel_Bus_24 View Post
I really think its Tomlin not shoving their crap play into their faces and making them realize that they aren't gods and that they have to play hard for an entire game.

Ive got the since all year that Tomlin hasn't been calling guys out because he was worried about what they think of him..i.e..losing respect. Well the time for that BS is over, He needs to get in their face an challenge them. Because we are on the verge of a complete collapse if this continues....
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Tomlin sucked!
Yes Mike, looks like the honeymoon is over.
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

Interesting necro-bumpage.....
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

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Interesting necro-bumpage.....
Knew it was gonna happen - just a question of when. Turns out it was six months, almost to the day.
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Old 11-18-2007, 10:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: Cook: Tomlin Turns Negatives to Positives

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Knew it was gonna happen - just a question of when. Turns out it was six months, almost to the day.
I am amazed it took 3 losses!!
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