Mark Madden: ESPN interview one in every of Mike Tomlin’s most important moments as Steelers coach

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About an hour in the past

I’m not essentially an enormous Mike Tomlin fan. Given the sources at hand, Tomlin’s Steelers groups have principally underachieved over the previous decade. I additionally suppose whoever changed Tomlin wouldn’t be nearly as good, or do as nicely.

However that’s one other debate for an additional time.

What Tomlin did when he spoke on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday was crucial. Tomlin knew that. He by no means does media through the offseason.

However you possibly can’t let a lie be instructed repeatedly about one in every of your gamers.

What the Browns’ Myles Garrett stated — once more — not solely displays badly on Mason Rudolph, however displays badly on Tomlin and badly on the Steelers group.

You can also’t let others pile on, as ESPN did through the “Exterior the Strains” phase that adopted Garrett doubling down on his declare that Rudolph stated the n-word.

As a black coach, Tomlin couldn’t be silent. It could seem like tacit affirmation of Garrett’s declare.

However Tomlin wasn’t silent when all this went down Nov. 14, and he actually wasn’t silent Monday. He defended Rudolph. He attacked the pretend information of that “Exterior the Strains” phase. He made it clear the Steelers received’t be pushed round on this.

As a black man, this wasn’t with out danger for Tomlin.

As ESPN’s Ryan Clark stated, “In doing this job, being an African-American and being a former black participant, I’m purported to assist every thing that’s black. The second you don’t…you’re not supporting. You’re promoting out. You’re dancing for ‘massa.’ ”

Clark, an ex-Steeler, disagrees with that notion. So does Tomlin, clearly.

Tomlin wasn’t supporting white when he spoke on ESPN. He was supporting proper. is an ESPN web site directed towards the African-American viewers. Jesse Washington of that web site tweeted, “(Tomlin is) not the kind of brother to lie on this. If he thought his QB stated that, he’d take care of it.”

That’s the form of credibility Tomlin has. That’s why it’s necessary he spoke.

ESPN triggered Tomlin — acquired him “hacked off” — with the now notorious “Exterior the Strains” phase. ESPN desires so badly for Garrett’s declare to be true.

Mentioned Ariel Helwani, “I form of really feel like (Rudolph has) gotten off scot-free right here.”

Mentioned Michele Steele, “I believe it makes the Steelers look unhealthy, and by extension makes the league look unhealthy, as a result of the inference there’s that you’ve got a participant saying racist issues on the sector with none self-discipline.”

The non-existent chance that Rudolph stated the n-word was maximized. The overwhelming chance that Garrett lied was minimized.

The NFL investigation that exonerated Rudolph was talked about, positive. However the feedback of Helwani and Steele ignored it. Your complete phase principally ignored it.

Tomlin didn’t. He went on ESPN and buried ESPN. He humiliated one of many NFL’s broadcast companions by itself turf. That’s epic.

It relies on what Garrett and Rudolph do subsequent, however Tomlin’s sturdy stand could be the start of the controversy’s finish. It’s being reported the Cleveland Browns group is upset Garrett revisited his allegations.

All the things Tomlin stated on ESPN was appropriate.

Stephen A. Smith tried to play the “what if” sport. Smith requested Tomlin how he knew the NFL’s investigation was thorough, as Tomlin had characterised it.

However Tomlin didn’t again down. He’s didn’t dilute. He didn’t debate. As Rudolph later tweeted, Tomlin was a “chief of males.”

Monday on ESPN wasn’t a playoff win. However it was one in every of Tomlin’s greatest and most important moments as Steelers coach.


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