BENZ: With clowns out of town, Mike Tomlin must understand that Steelers' circus must stop

(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)
Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is still spinning the same yarn.

Circus? Distractions? There was never anything crazy about the Steelers locker room!

When speaking to ESPN last week, Tomlin made the following statement when asked if he expected a “calmer locker room” this year.

“I don’t know that our locker room wasn’t calm a year ago,” Tomlin responded. “The circus that was associated with being us — from time to time — attention that comes with it, there is a perception that there is a lack of calm. But I don’t know that there was a lack of calm within our group. The circus that surrounds our group can be described as that. But the group itself, these guys are professional.”

Then Tomlin went onto suggest that the coverage of the team was more chaotic than his team’s behavior itself.

“We have no control over the storylines,” Tomlin said. “We just prepare and play. And play to win.”

That has been the company line with the Steelers for a few years now.

Clowns are gone: As Tomlin was suggesting, it’s not like the issues that surrounded the Steelers a year ago resulted in a replay of the stool-swinging minicamp brawl of 19 years ago.

But I’ll say the same thing in response to Tomlin that I did when Art Rooney II and Kevin Colbert expressed the same opinion: It’s hard to have a circus when you remove all the clowns.

Antonio Brown is in Oakland. Le’Veon Bell is in New York. James Harrison is retired. Joey Porter isn’t on the coaching staff. Martavis Bryant is out of football.

Actions speak louder than words. Those clowns were removed for a reason. Those guys had enough of Pittsburgh. And the Steelers had enough of trying to make them happy.

Rooney could’ve given Bell what he wanted financially. Colbert could’ve played hardball with Brown instead of giving him away for chump change to Oakland. The organization could’ve given Bryant yet another chance. Tomlin could’ve kept Porter and played Harrison more.

But, in each case, that didn’t happen. In each case, the team put up with too much for too long. And, eventually, they said enough was enough.


But let’s not revise history and act like that’s not what happened. Particularly in the cases of Bell, Brown and Bryant. Those guys are still gifted enough to help the offense.

They just bring too much baggage.

Heck, it was Tomlin himself who — after this spring’s draft — used the word “cleansing” to describe what took place with the team this offseason.

He turned that phrase in response to defending his own “we want volunteers, not hostages” reference to his locker room in November.

That doesn’t sound like a coach who was satisfied with the chemistry of his group a year ago.

Team has control over storylines: The frustrating part of this latest quote from Tomlin is when he says, “We have no control over the storylines.”

Yeah. You do.

If your players …

►Don’t skip meetings, practices, and games

►Don’t demand trades

►Don’t sit out the whole year

►Don’t tweet dumb things

►Don’t force themselves into being released

►Don’t get suspended

►Don’t have sideline blowups with coaches

… then the media won’t have the pesky “storylines.”

I know Tomlin understands that.

What I don’t know is why Tomlin thinks we are going to buy his sales job to the contrary.