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Old 02-03-2011, 06:30 AM   #1
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Default Bires: Tomlin has proven he's among best

Bires: Tomlin has proven he's among best
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Thursday February 3, 2011 12:15 AM

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin watches his players during practice on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas. The Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in NFL football Super Bowl XLV Sunday, Feb. 6. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

FORT WORTH, Texas — We may never know for sure how close Russ Grimm came to succeeding Bill Cowher. But as the past four seasons have proven, Mike Tomlin was the perfect choice.

It’s hard to imagine the Steelers enjoying the success they’ve had with anyone but Tomlin calling the shots. The guy is truly amazing.

He’s young and energetic. He’s passionate. He’s intelligent. He’s well-spoken. He’s not afraid to make tough decisions. He handles adversity well.

Most importantly, he’s the ultimate motivator. It’s uncanny how he gets his players to be at their best.

When that happens, it’s possible to win three division titles in four years and make it to the Super Bowl twice in the past three years as the Steelers have done.

Since the Steelers arrived in North Texas on Monday, Tomlin has been a breath of fresh air when placed in front of the media. He’s confident, polished and always in command.

And true to form since the Rooneys chose him to run their football team, Tomlin refuses to take credit for anything he’s done to keep the Steelers’ proud tradition going. He always deflects any praise that comes his way.

He could care less if he ever wins Coach of the Year. He just wants to win championships.

“Mike’s player evaluation, his X’s and O’s, his communication skills, everyone understands that,” said Kevin Colbert, the Steelers’ direction of football operations. “He’s got special qualities in all those areas.

“What makes him unique is that he knows what his team is thinking before they do. He understands younger players. He also understands and commands respect of the veterans. He has the ability to pull those things together. He’s uncanny about knowing what the players are thinking.”

Right now, Tomlin is 38 years old and the proud owner of two Super Bowl rings.
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He got the first one in 2002 as Tampa Bay’s secondary coach. It would be a reach to say Tomlin’s input in coaching defensive backs was a key to the Buccaneers’ championship season. But in that 48-21 Super Bowl rout of Oakland, the DBs intercepted four passes and returned two for touchdowns.

Certainly Tomlin’s fingerprints were all over the Steelers’ Super Bowl win in 2008.

You may remember how he laid down the law when Casey Hampton reported to camp that year out of shape. Tomlin placed the all-star nose tackle on the physically unable to perform list until he worked his way into shape.

At first, Hampton resented his punishment. But over time, he realized Tomlin handled the situation correctly. Now, Hampton is a one of Tomlin’s biggest supporters.

When the Steelers capped off the the season with that 27-23 thriller over Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII, Tomlin became the youngest coach to win it all.

If the Steelers beat Packers on Sunday, Tomlin will become the first coach to win two Super Bowls in his first four years. As it is now, he and Joe Gibbs are the only two coaches to make it to the Super Bowl twice in their first four years.

“I am very conscious of the legacy that is the Pittsburgh Steelers. I simply want to add to it,” said Tomlin, who majored in sociology when he attended William & Mary, a college that’s perennially ranked among the top 10 institutions of higher learning in the United States.

“That drives me on a daily basis. I have big respect for the men who have had this job before me. All I want to do is uphold the standard that is the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Tomlin has done just that.

He’s already one of the NFL’s best coaches.

He may some day be the best.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com
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