Mike Tomlin

Tomlin takes jab at Pats during commencement speech

Tomlin takes jab at Pats during commencement speech

Fun joke alert!

Hilarious great joke man Mike Tomlin got in a little dig at the Patriots (and himself) while giving the commencement speech at Robert Morris University on Friday. 

While speaking to the graduating class, the Steelers coach advised against making assumptions.  

“I realize that assumptions are very dangerous," Tomlin said. "There's a cliché about assuming, isn't it? It can make Patriots out of you and me."

The line, which got a laugh, accomplished two things: It calls the Patriots rear ends, but it also provides some callback humor. As Antonio Brown relayed last postseason via Facebook live, Tomlin called the Patriots a-holes prior to the teams meeting in the AFC Championship. 

You can see his speech here.

Curran: Will NFL punish 'transparent' Steelers for hiding Le'Veon Bell injury?

Curran: Will NFL punish 'transparent' Steelers for hiding Le'Veon Bell injury?

Back in October, Mike Tomlin was asked why the Steelers ruled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out of a game with the Patriots so early in the week.

“We’re a transparent group,” said Tomlin. “We don’t hide. We are who we are."

The statement seemed a little sanctimonious and could easily be construed as a thinly-veiled shot at the Patriots, who share what they have to when they have to and little more.

Now the statement is hypocritical to boot. The groin injury that forced Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell from the AFC Championship Game on Sunday was a long-standing one that the Steelers may have been hiding on their injury reports.

Teams are on the hook to list any significant or noteworthy injuries to players on their practice participation and injury reports.

Tomlin has framed Bell’s groin injury as being insignificant.

As Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk points out:

Here’s the problem with that argument. Bell had been missing practice time. Each of the three Wednesdays before the team’s playoff games, Bell didn’t practice. Last Thursday, he missed practice for ‘personal reasons.’

"The circumstances put the league office in a tough spot. If Bell missed no practice time, the folks at 345 Park Avenue could say, ‘The injury wasn’t significant, and Bell participated in all practices and games.’ Since Bell missed four of nine practices over a three-week period with the ‘not injury related’ designation at a time when Bell had a groin injury, the league will have a hard time burying its head in the sand on this one.”

Additionally, while the injury may not have been significant, the best back in the league having a tender groin is noteworthy and warranted disclosure. There was a lot of clucking a few years back when the Patriots listed Tom Brady on their injury report every week with a shoulder situation. Significant? He didn’t miss many games with it. Noteworthy? Absolutely.

In a statement released after the Ravens were fined for injury-report chicanery, the league maintained: The Injury Report Policy states that, “All players with significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game. This is especially true of key players and those players whose injuries have been covered extensively by the media.”

With the NFL possibly opening up shop in Las Vegas in the next couple of years, it would behoove them to make sure every franchise is as “transparent” as Tomlin proclaimed the Steelers were back in October.

The reason the NFL injury report exists is, in large part, so that gamblers can’t profit from insider info. No NFL franchise is more attuned to making sure gambling interests aren’t served than the Steelers. In 2008, after the NFL looked the other way for decades while the Rooney family maintained control of the Steelers and several racetracks, two Rooney brothers divested themselves of Steelers ownership so they could maintain the family’s gambling interests.

So the appearance of fudging Bell’s injury isn’t just a bad look for the coach, it’s an awful look for the Steelers. And, if the NFL does nothing after having docked the Seattle Seahawks a second-round pick for an injury report infraction, it will give rise to the perception the league office is giving Pittsburgh preferential treatment. Which would be the second time this season that could be alleged, given the way the league swept away accusations from Giants personnel that the Steelers were using deflated footballs in a game earlier this season.

It’s a tangled web they weave, ain’t it?

 

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.