There can be little doubt that the Steelers were handed a humiliating defeat yesterday by the Browns. Charlie Batch notwithstanding, 8 fumbles is an embarrassing performance in any coach's book. Yet, despite the raw shame that Pittsburgh fans feel at the thought of losing to the Cleveland Browns, we should all take heart and find great strength in the person of Mike Tomlin.
Not many are qualified to truly evaluate his skills as a football coach. As fans we like to think we have what it takes to do his job (or at least to tell him what he's doing wrong), but the truth is that only a select group of individuals gets the title of "Head Coach" in the NFL. The best we can do is second guess his decisions and then share our "wisdom" with the outraged fans screaming at the sports talk programs.
Yet Mike Tomlin the man is a far more valuable example of leadership and accountability. His comments after the game reveal an individual who understands the burden of leaders, which is ownership of the actions of others whom they cannot control. He does not look for scapegoats nor does he engage in the art of finding fault with specific players. Phrases like "We own it" and "It is what it is" are far more than just a cagey strategy for answering uncomfortable questions. Coach Tomlin's language--both spoken and unspoken--reflects a highly developed sense of accountability for himself and his coaches and players. To be fair, he seems to have always been that sort of guy; I think I wasn't paying enough attention until now.
So I propose that we change Coach Tomlin's job title to CAO -- Chief Accountability Officer, and then, during the off-season, send him out to schools and youth organizations across Western PA (and, indeed, the whole country) to deliver a very simple message: Accountability, while sometimes unpleasant, is the greatest reward of leadership and an enduring source of respect.
So how about it Mr. Rooney? Could you spring for a new set of business cards for Coach Mike?