Win or lose next week, I’ve made up my mind. I’m pretty sure much of the NFL and the media has as well. Mike Tomlin is arguably the best and most respected
black coach in the game. Why do I think this? Because Mike’s immense talent, unquestioned character, and stern, yet likable personality has made us, for the first time, completely ignore race (finally). Not that race is unimportant or nonexistant (we should all be proud of our heritage) it just has no place in the describing of a person’s profession or abilities. I am not white blogger, I am a white man who IS blogger. Denzel Washington is not a black actor, he is a black man who IS an actor. And Mike Tomlin is not a black head coach, he is a HEAD COACH.
With all do respect to those who broke down the doors that he has walked through, Mike has done something none of his predecessors have. He’s made the media stop calling him a black head coach, and just call him coach.
Jim Brown advanced racial causes possibly more than any athlete ever (except maybe Jackie Robinson). But Jim ALWAYS made it about race, at times even when it wasn’t.
Tony Dungy was the first Black Head Coach to win a Super Bowl. This was a monumental step forward for minority coaches, who for years were stereotyped as not as qualified/smart to lead a team as white quarterbacks (but they sure made great players).
In the 3 days since the AFC Championship game, and the 10 days since Martin Luther King day, we’ve reached a point of monumental improvement, and it should be noted. In the whitewashed world of NFL Coaching/Management… Mike Tomlin has taken a major step towards eroding years of stereotypes, by making us forget, for a moment, that they exist.
Almost effortlessly, Mike Tomlin captures the attention of any room. Players, Coaches, Fans, and the Media hang on his every, extremely precisely chosen, word. He is a rare combination of players coach, and old school, no nonsense that seems to not exist anywhere else in the NFL. He is more affable than Belicheck, but just as prepared. He is more humble and careful than Ryan, but players across the league want to play for him just as much. It is through this rare combination of coaching skills (possessed by seemingly no one else in football black or white) that Mike has earned his place as A/THE top
black coach in the NFL.
Mike definitely owes a huge debt of gratitude to those who broke down walls of the past. Mike also owes a thank you to forward thinkers like Art Rooney, for not interviewing a minority candidate just to fill a requirement (because the Rooney rule did NOT yet exist) but because Mike was just THAT undeniably talented.
So as Mike Tomlin goes for ring #2 (2 more than Rex Ryan has as a head coach), everyone should THANK him. Because while we all should see him on a personal level as a respected black man… professionally we see him (just like all his white peers) as a respected
black HEAD COACH.