PITTSBURGH — Mike Tomlin made history during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 29-27 victory over the Chicago Bears on Monday night. Tomlin reached his 150th career win as the Steelers head coach. In the process, Tomlin passed his predecessor, Bill Cowher, who won 149 games during his 15 years on Pittsburgh’s sideline.
Tomlin, 49, needed only 232 games to reach 150 wins, making him the fourth-fastest coach to reach that milestone. He is one of 21 head coaches to reach 150 wins and joins Chuck Noll as the second Steelers coach to reach that mark.
“I’m just appreciative of the standards that’s been set by those that have come before me,” Tomlin said when asked about the milestone. “All of us are here. That standard is inspirational for us. It inspires us, it challenges us. I’m just thankful to be a part of this thing that is the Pittsburgh Steelers. I do my job to uphold the standard.”
While Tomlin is still writing chapters to his coaching career, former Steelers cornerback and CBS Sports football analyst Bryant McFadden feels that Tomlin has already done enough to one day join Noll and Cowher in Canton, Ohio.
“He’s there right now. If he decided to end his coaching career this season, he’s a Hall of Famer,” said McFadden, who played under both Cowher and Tomlin and was a member of two Super Bowl-winning teams with the Steelers. “From 2007 to the present, he’s never had a losing season, that speaks volume on his consistency. Winning AFC championship ball games. Getting to the Super Bowl, winning a Super Bowl.
“When you’ve won a conference championship game, you’ve been in the playoffs a lot, and your team has always been relevant in competitive conversations, that speaks volumes. To me personally, if he was to end his coaching career this season, yeah, he’s already a Hall of Famer. Certified.”
Craving even more NFL coverage focusing on previews, recaps, news and analysis? Listen below and follow the Pick Six podcast for a daily dose of everything you need to follow pro football.
Both defensive-minded coaches, McFadden said that there are more similarities than differences when it comes to Cowher and Tomlin. Between them, the two coaches have 299 wins, two Super Bowl wins, four AFC Championship Game wins, 15 division titles, and 19 playoff appearances in 29-plus seasons on Pittsburgh’s sideline.
“They are both no-nonsense type coaches,” McFadden said. “They want nothing but professionalism week in and week out, day in and day out. They are great motivators. The way they gather the team the night before a ball game and thinking of something that they could say that we have not heard before but what definitely be impactful was a really good skillset both coaches had.
“Bill Cowher had us ready to run through a wall, and actually we thought we could beat the wall and knock the wall down. That’s how powerful his speeches were. And Mike Tomlin, he has that same skill set. And now, when you hear him give his pressers, he often gives a Tomlinism, words only he can put together. The way they were able to communicate was nothing but leadership-like.”
Unlike many of his teammates, McFadden had already worked with Tomlin prior to his arrival in Pittsburgh in January 2007. Two years earlier, Tomlin coached McFadden during the Senior Bowl as a member of the Buccaneers‘ coaching staff. Tomlin quickly built a rapport with the rest of McFadden’s teammates shortly after being named head coach. Tomlin’s connection with is players is one of the reasons for his consistent success, says McFadden.
“He’s able to relate to any and everyone that’s in the building that’s willing to put their hand in the pile to try to accomplish a Super Bowl goal,” McFadden said. “I know players respect that. And when they respect the man that’s in command, they’re going to do everything in their power to do what he wants and what the entire staff wants them to do. And that usually results into wins, and that has been one of the biggest skill sets I think Mike T. has had which has provided nothing but consistency throughout his professional head coaching career.”
Ask anyone within the Steelers’ organization, and they will tell you that Tomlin has boundless energy. That energy is present in practices, meetings, and whenever Tomlin passes someone in the hallway. That energy can also be seen on the sideline during games, as the former receiver for William & Mary appears ready to put on the pads himself.
Tomlin’s unbridled passion for the game is infectious on his players. McFadden spoke of Tomlin’s game day energy when asked to name the best part about playing for Tomlin.
“He’s passionate about the game of football, and sometimes, he can’t hide it,” McFadden said. “I like that. I love seeing coaches get animated and get fired up. Let’s get fired up. Get fired up with us. I understand you’re not covering or hitting anybody, but get me that same mindset as if you were going to do that.”
Tomlin has done that for his players. It has served him well so far, and it should continue to serve him well for however longer he decides to roam the sidelines in Pittsburgh.