Gunner Olszewski: Patriots Coaches, Bill Belichick Talk Highly of Mike Tomlin
PITTSBURGH — One of the draws of playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers is undoubtedly Mike Tomlin. Known as a culture builder extraordinaire and a coach that players not only love but respect on a fundamental level, Tomlin’s presence in Pittsburgh is one of a titan. It gives the Steelers some unique sway in their free-agent pursuits of players. Numerous times, players will say they have come to play in Pittsburgh because of Tomlin.
It would be fair to add new Steelers wide receiver Gunner Olszewski to that list. After leaving the Patriots, Olszewski had high expectations for whatever locker room he was going to walk into next. After all, it is not easy to follow up on the culture and tradition that Bill Belichick has built-in New England. If there is someone who could do it, though, maybe it would be Tomlin. For Olszewski, that was one of the key reasons he signed with the Steelers in the first place.
“Mike Tomlin,” Olszewski said when he was asked why he signed with the Steelers. “I get to play for one of the best coaches in the league. I am blessed for that opportunity. Getting to play for Mike Tomlin, I will have the opportunity to learn from one of the best. I am excited to get that going.”
Olszewski is going from one of the best to another one of the best in the NFL. It is rare air that Belichick talks favorably about people in the game of football. Getting some praise from Belichick requires, not only good work in the league, but gaining his respect. As Olszewski knew from his time in New England, one of the few coaches that Belichick revered was Tomlin. That made the choice all the easier for Olszewski, who was on the free-agent market for the first time in his career.
“He’s one of the best coaches in the game,” Olszewski said. “I’ve heard coaches from the old staff that I played for, they talk highly of him. They don’t talk highly of a lot of people, but they talk highly of him.”
There are two different styles at play here in this comparison. From the outside, the Steelers appear to be a bouncier bunch. Tomlin is stern when he needs to be, but also has a style of reliability to the players and their lives that few coaches have ever replicated in the game of football. Meanwhile, Belichick appears more authoritarian. That does not mean that the Patriots do not have fun, but there is not the same looseness emanating from the culture to the outside. Olszewski backed that up, and the Steelers locker room is far different than the locker room was in Foxborough. However, at the end of the day, it is just football.
“It’s a lot different,” Olszewski said. “There are different hours in the building. At the end of the day, they preach the same thing. They want good football. You need good catching, running, tackling, and all the fundamental things about the game. That’s a pretty easy transition.”
Olszewski will look to beat out a few of the other players that are vying for the returner spot. With no Ray-Ray McCloud, Olszewski has that opportunity. His real audition starts this upcoming week at mandatory minicamp, where the intensity will ramp up ever so slightly.