November 22, 2010
You've seen and heard about it dozens of times by now: Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour(notes) briefly went bananas Sunday and punched Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the face.
But I think it's worth taking a minute to express some appreciation for the way Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the punch in his postgame press conference. It would've been easy for any opposing coach to hammer Seymour, because for a brief moment, he was mindless and violent.
Tomlin wouldn't do it, though. Here's what he said:
"I got big-time respect for Richard Seymour as a football player. That guy's got an 11-year resume that's pretty impressive as a professional. I'm not going to let that play cloud my opinion on Richard Seymour. I think he's an awesome football player and a professional. It just got away from us, all parties involved today."
That's a thoughtful man taking the high road. It feels like that's too rare in sports.
The non-stop demand for media coverage of the NFL creates an unforgiving, knee-jerk, rush-to-judgment, you-are-what-you-did-five-minutes-ago type of atmosphere. It's not always fair. And in this case, it would have been completely fair for Tomlin to throw Seymour under a bus, because what he did was inexcusable.
Instead, Tomlin chose to be forgiving and understanding while acknowledging that both teams got heated out there. He put Seymour's 11-year career ahead of one angry, frustrated lapse.
It was a classy and good-hearted way for Mike Tomlin to handle things. Seymour set a ridiculous example for any young football player watching, but Tomlin took it and flipped it into an opportunity to set a good example.
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