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Old 02-05-2011, 01:26 PM   #1
Atlanta Dan
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Default NYT - Steelers’ Coach Takes a Quiet Route to Brilliance

Steelers’ Coach Takes a Quiet Route to Brilliance

During a Super Bowl week with so much hype and thousands of words, Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin spoke sparingly and economically, with precision and grace.

Tomlin chooses words carefully, thinks before he talks and rarely blurts out an uncensored thought.

He acknowledges his roots but plays down the significance of being an African-American head coach in the N.F.L.

Yet if Tomlin leads the Steelers to victory on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers and wins his second Super Bowl ring in four seasons, he may become the first African-American head coach to be called brilliant.

The language of adulation has been reserved for white coaches. Tomlin can bridge this divide, though that depends more on the news media than it ever will on Tomlin.

When asked about Dungy’s effect on his life, Tomlin lowered his shield for a moment last week and allowed a look at the way he sees himself and his role as head coach.

“I can give a really pointed answer because I am very conscious of Coach Dungy’s influence in terms of how I do my job,” Tomlin said, adding: “He tries to lead through service, and I do the same. I learned that from him in providing the men what they need to be great. Every day when I go to work, I don’t think about things I have to do, I think about the things I can do to make my men successful. So I have a servant’s mentality in terms of how I approach my job, and I get that from Coach Dungy.”

Tomlin has had to put that philosophy to use with the Steelers throughout the season, imploring backup players to step in and perform, and young players to grow up and contribute.

“If you have a helmet on, you’re a guy who is capable of making deciding plays,” Tomlin said. “We don’t grade on a curve. If I give any of these guys a helmet on Sunday, I expect them to potentially put themselves in position to be the reason why they win. I think there is not a man in our locker room who doesn’t embrace that. We’re not interested in style points.”


There must be some corporate executive recruiters that would love to ask Dan Rooney what criteria he is looking for in a head coach - imagine if the Steelers would have played it safe and hired Russ Grimm
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