Kamis, 13 Oktober 2011

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin doesn't like questions about the Jaguars-Steelers playoff game

Submitted by Tania Ganguli on October 12, 2011
The Florida Times-Union

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 09: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches his team play against the Tennessee Titans during the game on October 9, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Caused a stir with a tweet earlier about Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hanging up on us during the conference call, so here's a little context to it.

First, understand, the playoff game between the Steelers and the Jaguars that followed the 2007 season had big implications for this franchise.

The Jaguars 31-29 win was Jack Del Rio's only playoff win as a head coach and followed a season when the Jaguars went 11-5 and thought they had a defense that was just a few pieces away from winning a championship.

After the season, Del Rio got a four year, $21 million extension, David Garrard was awarded the richest contract in franchise history, a six-year extension worth $60 million and the Jaguars traded seven draft picks to move up in the first and second round to take Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, neither of whom are still on the team.

It was a season that heavily impacted the Jaguars future, and that game that had a lot to do with it.

You'll read that story in a few places this week. So, when the Steelers called in for Tomlin's conference call with Jacksonville beat writers, it came up.

Now, Tomlin has a testy history with us, specifically my colleague Vito Stellino. It's something we laugh about and something he's laughed about with us in the past. It all started back in 2007, during the regular season game, when Stellino asked Tomlin a question about the running game that Tomlin objected to. As Stellino recalls, he asked Tomlin something along the lines of "What's the problem with the running game? The Steelers have been running the ball for 50 years."

So today's conference call began with Tomlin being asked if he remembered Stellino and Tomlin replying that he "unfortunately" did.

Chuckles all around.

We asked about the Steelers run defense. We asked about Ben Roethlisberger, we asked if the age of his defense was a concern. Then, another reporter (it wasn't Stellino), the Associated Press's Mark Long, asked if he had any memories from the playoff game after the 2007 season.

"Not really," Tomlin said. "I remember David Garrard of course on the draw on fourth down. That's one of those plays you'll never forget. It was a big play."

It was a very big play, and one on which officials missed a holding call. In March at the league meetings Mike Pereira, then the league's vice president of officiating, said officials missed the holding call.

As a follow up, and here's where it got testy, Long asked if he sent the play to the league office.

"No," Tomlin said.

Why not?

"Why would I?"

Wasn't there a questionable non-call on that play? Holding?

"Guys, come on man. I'm not going to cry over four-year-old spilled milk. Anybody got any legitimate questions? Goll-lly," Tomlin said, clearly perturbed.

We chuckled, but Tomlin didn't. So Long tried to explain it was a big game from a Jacksonville standpoint and that's why he was asking.

"Guys, that was four years ago," Tomlin said. "I understand that might have been a big game in Jacksonville but that's old news. Many of those guys are no longer here and definitely many of the guys that were in Jacksonville are no longer there. Anybody got any questions relative to this week?"

Three seconds passed and Vito began to ask a question, but Tomlin jumped in before he could finish his question.

"Thank you, have a good one."


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