As the pages of calendars all across the nation turn to February, Black History Month 2011 will be ushered into the consciousness of America to remind its citizens of the invaluable contributions African-Americans have made toward making this country what it is today.
African-Americans have also placed their unique stamp on the sports world, overcoming the barriers of discrimination, racism and segregation to earn acceptance in a milieu where they are no longer judged by the color of their skin, but by their ability, character and work ethic.
During Black History Month 2010, Sports Haze New York City feature writer Ronald Monestime chronicled some of these triumphant stories in a series entitled This Day in Black Sports History, devoting each day to the celebration of historic African-American achievements in sports.
Black History Month 2011 marks the beginning of an entirely new series and another 28-day journey through the annals of sports history to recognize, and honor, African-American pioneers past, present and future.
Appropriately enough, today’s honoree will be the subject of considerable discussion this week as he prepares to lead his team into Cowboys Stadium to play Super Bowl XLV.
In addition, at the age of 38, Tomlin is the third-youngest head coach in any of the four major North American professional sports leagues, but there can be little argument that his youth belies his vast gridiron acumen.
Along the way, Tomlin has won a Coach of the Year Award (2008), two conference championships and a Super Bowl trophy, which is the precise moment the native of Newport News, Virginia started making headlines.
A little over two years ago, the Steelers captured the AFC North Division by posting a 12-4 record, their second division title in as many seasons under Tomlin, and culminated the 2008 campaign with an AFC Championship Game victory over the Baltimore Ravens, followed by a Super Bowl XLIII triumph against the upstart Arizona Cardinals.
When Pittsburgh defeated the Ravens, Tomlin became the youngest NFL head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl and the third African-American coach to do so, joining Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts) and Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears).
So on February 1, 2009, when the Steelers brought home the franchise’s sixth Lombardi Trophy with a heart-stopping 27-23 victory over the Cardinals, Tomlin became the youngest head coach in NFL history to win the Super Bowl.
Now, Tomlin has the opportunity to become the youngest head coach to win two Super Bowls—all in a day’s work for the husband and father of three, who is well on his way to not only becoming the most successful African-American head coach in the game’s history, but the most successful of all head coaches who have come down the pike.