Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn't taking Terry Bradshaw's criticism lightly. Tomlin responded during his Tuesday press conference, calling Bradshaw's comments "unprofessional" and throwing a not-so-subtle jab the Steelers legend's way.
"Terms like 'cheerleader guy,' to me, maybe fall outside of bounds of critique or criticism," Tomlin told reporters. "They probably fall more toward the area of disrespect and unprofessional. But what do I know? I grew up a Dallas fan. Particularly a [Thomas] 'Hollywood' Henderson fan."
Tomlin was referring to the former Cowboys linebacker who once said of Bradshaw: "He couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the C and the A."
Bradshaw appeared on Fox Sports 1's Speak For Yourself program, where he refused to categorize Tomlin as an exceptional NFL coach.
"I don't think he's a great coach at all," Bradshaw said. "He's a nice coach. To me, I've said this, he's really a great cheerleader guy. I don't know what he does. I don't think he is a great coach at all. His name never even pops in my mind when we think about great coaches in the NFL."
Bradshaw, who quarterbacked the Steelers to four Super Bowl wins over a 14-year career, said he considers Tomlin's predecessor, Bill Cowher, a great coach. Tomlin has gone 102-57 (.642 winning percentage) over his first 10 seasons in Pittsburgh. The Steelers will be making their seventh playoff appearance under Tomlin, and they've gone to two Super Bowls, winning one.
Comparatively speaking, Cowher and Tomlin have near-identical resumes. Cowher's 149-90-1 record translates to a slightly worse winning percentage (.623), but Cowher has a slightly better playoff mark (12-9 to 6-5). Cowher and Tomlin are both 1-1 in Super Bowl appearances.
Tomlin, for his part, said he doesn't believe there are many coaches in sports with "great" resumes:
I appreciate the support. But criticism and critique are very much a part of our business. It's an element of our business that as a competitor I embrace. The term 'great,' that's something I have a great deal of respect for. I certainly don't think that my résumé to this point reads as great. But very few coaches' résumés read as that at this point. Guys like Bill [Belichick] in New England probably can say that, Pop [Gregg Popovich] down in San Antonio. I think the rest of us are just working stiffs, to be quite honest with you.
Tomlin has never drawn much praise for his innovation as a tactical mind, but there's little doubt he manages people and his organization well. The Steelers have transitioned from a smashmouth-style unit under Cowher to one of the most dynamic offenses in football, featuring perhaps the best quarterback/running back/wide receiver trio in the sport.
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