Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is in danger of being called two-faced, or even deceitful, with his latest explanation of what happened on Thanksgiving.
A sincere-sounding Tomlin took the podium for his regularly scheduled Tuesday press conference and issued a solemn statement about his sideline whereabouts during Jacoby Jones' kick return during Thursday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
"As a Head Coach in this league we are held to a higher standard of conduct. Based on that, my actions were below the line" Tomlin
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 3, 2013
"My actions are a lot of things, embarrassing, inexcusable, a blunder, I acknowledge that." Tomlin — Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 3, 2013
It sounded somewhat like an apology, minus one key element: There was no admission of guilt or of intention. It's along the lines of a head coach saying, I'll take the blame for this, when you know they think in their head there's nothing they should apologizing about.
And, hey, maybe there's not. Maybe he did nothing wrong during the game. But the way he has handled it since has been lacking.
Earlier in the day, Tomlin told FOX Sports' Jay Glazer that there was none of either when the incident occurred, despite a riveting new camera angle that actually shows Tomlin moving farther out from his spot on the sideline.
“If anybody thinks I or anybody else would do this on purpose, they are crazy,” Tomlin told Glazer.
And Tomlin echoed that sentiment to the media at large at his press conference.
Tomlin: "Shocking to me that my actions . . . can be perceived as intentional."
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) December 3, 2013
A hefty fine is forthcoming, and perhaps more, although reports suggest that the draft-pick and suspension talk might be a bit out of bounds, to use an apt metaphor. But what are most disturbing here are Tomlin's fork-tongued words.
On the one hand, he says what he did — calling it "his act" even — was wrong and beneath the standards set for him as the head coach, and a member of the NFL's competition committee, which is a fairly prestigious thing in this biz.
Yet on the other, he scoffs at the notion that anyone would think it was intentional. After he said what he did was wrong! It's amazing gall for a man whose team is on life support. What should he have done? How about this: "I should have been aware. I know the rule. I was too far out. I could have hurt someone. I am sorry it happened. I'll pay for the crime." And, scene.
Instead, we only got part of that. Tomlin has undermined us with his being aghast at the suggestions that he would stoop to such a level. It sounds like someone with the last name of Rooney gave Tomlin a talking to, saying something akin to: Look, you need to take responsibility for this. We can't have you missing a game, or losing a draft pick. Act contrite. And he did. Sort of. Then he questioned the sanity of those who deigned to doubt his intentions.
Tomlin: Has not talked to Ravens because "I know what perspective they have on it" — Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) December 3, 2013
And yeah, would it have killed Tomlin to take five minutes and call John Harbaugh, a man he'll see twice a year for the foreseeable future? Probably not.
So we'll wait to see what fine comes down on Tomlin, likely monetary and likely steep in nature. But the story will go away at some point. He knows that. And yet if someone asks him about it a year from now, or five, he'll maintain his innocence, or better yet, his ignorance on the matter.
And Tomlin will have felt emboldened by the fact that he managed to survive this mini-incident with his resolve and stubbornness. For that, everyone loses. He's a good coach but a poor actor.
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