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Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin Opens up on Coaching: “What Inspires Me is My Failures as a Player”

YouTube: The Pivot Podcast

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin Opens up on Coaching: “What Inspires Me is My Failures as a Player”

Mike Tomlin is one of the all-time greatest coaches in Pittsburgh Steelers history. A record of 241-154-2 in his 15-year career, and he has never had a losing season. A 2x AFC Champion and 2009 Super Bowl Champion, he’s widely viewed as one of the best coaches in the game of football.

Steelers Mike Tomlin

Dec 23, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tomlin sat down with The Pivot Podcast, which is hosted by his former player Ryan Clark, and went deep into what he strives for in coaching and why he has the mentality he does.

“What inspires me as a coach really to be blunt: my failures as a player. I could never live with it. I wanted to be a great player, and I wasn’t. I never got over that. And I take that same energy into coaching. I think that’s why we all coach. We don’t want to admit it, but we coach because we could not play. We could never play or we could no longer play, but we couldn’t play to out vision,” Tomlin admitted.

“How do you stay motivated, because obviously you get paid well. What motivates you? The players, the Lombardi Trophies, what is it?” Tomlin answers:

“The men I work with. Coaching is real simple to me. You help players realize their dreams, you help feed their families, and then in turn you eat. The men I’m working with change every year. We disrespect those players that play if we, as coaches, don’t share that same urgency they have.”

“I came into the league fighting every day to prove I belong, to help those guys eat. That’s just the mentality that I took from that,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin is known to be a players coach, so it does not come as a surprise that Clark invited him onto his podcast, which has over 350,000 subscribers on YouTube. Clark admitted him and Tomlin have one of the best relationships that came out of Clark’s playing career.

Steelers Ryan Clark Mike Tomlin

Photo credit via Steelers Wire / USA Today

Coach Tomlin also elaborated on his early coaching days, when he was hired by Tony Dungy as a defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001. He remembers going into Dungy’s office one day and sees his kid playing a Playstation, which put his mind at ease when it came to handling his job and his newly born son.

“I’m scared to death. Am I going to meet the demands of the job? How am I going to balance the demands of the job with fatherhood? I just didn’t know what it looked like. I just didn’t know what the NFL would look like. I didn’t even know what fatherhood looked like because I came from a broken home. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate that,” Tomlin says.

“My first day of the job we have a press conference, he [Dungy] tells me to come by to his office. I come by and walk into his office, his lights are off, and his son sitting on the floor, with a PlayStation hooked up to his TV and his kid is playing video games in his office.”

“He showed me an image in an instant that all the things I was worrying about was manageable. That dude was doing his job, and he son was sitting in there playing video games, and he continued to show me. I was just an hour into the job, and he never realized how significant that was for me to see. And he continually showed me, that was just the first time,” Tomlin concluded.


Watch the full interview here.


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I'm Anthony "Rav" Ravasio and I'm a Pittsburgh native currently at Arizona State University studying sports journalism. I attended North Catholic High School in Cranberry and grew up cheering for these Steelers the whole way through. In my spare time, I love to spend time with friends or family, as well as grow my knowledge for sports in many different ways! Follow me on Twitter @anthonyravasio


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