Like a parent taking away privileges from a child who has misbehaved, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is trying to get through to his team by taking away their toys.
The Steelers are 0-4, and Tomlin's answer to turning it around is taking away the players' ability to have fun. Gone from the locker room are “pool cues, ping-pong paddles and shuffleboard discs” as Pittsburgh tries to make things right this Sunday against the New York Jets.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tomlin is cracking down on anything that might affect the focus of what has been a pretty bad football team.
As Dulac notes, the team's veterans took the step a few weeks ago of banning the younger players on the team from playing games in the locker room. That was done in an effort to keep them on track and not toying around too much. But with no wins through a quarter of the season, more draconian measures were taken. Nobody can play around anymore.
Punitive measures worked earlier this season for the Jets, the team Pittsburgh plays this week. In a Week 3 28-21 win over the Buffalo Bills, the Jets committed an astonishing 20 penalties, a franchise record. So in practice, head coach Rex Ryan cracked the whip and had his players do push-ups anytime there was a penalty in practice.
The end result? In the Jets' 30-28 win on Monday night at the Atlanta Falcons, they had just six penalties. Several players credited the push-up policy for helping the Jets focus on the issue.
When the Steelers start winning again, maybe shuffleboard will return to the Steelers locker room.
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Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and also contributes to Yahoo Sports. He can be followed for news and random tweetings @KristianRDyer