Mike Tomlin loves coaching football. Moreover, he loves the players he coaches. It seems that the players often love him back. That was certainly the case for soon-to-be Hall of Fame cornerback Ronde Barber, who had Tomlin as his defensive backs coach long before he ever was hired as the Steelers’ head coach.
Back then, under the guidance of Tony Dungy, Mike Tomlin helped guide the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory. But Barber was a player who emerged into superstardom under Tomlin’s tutelage. Once he did, it meant everything to Barber, who after a long stretch of playing in the NFL, will be recognized for his achievements. But he says none of it happens without Tomlin.
“His influence on me is without words,” Barber said. “He transformed me into the player that is now standing in Canton and get ready to get a golden jacket. There’s a lot of ways I could go about it but really he empowered me and went about methodically making me that guy. I love him to death. We’re best friends still to this day. I can’t wait for him to get here. He’s coming over here from Pittsburgh. He’s one of the guys I’m looking forward to the most sharing this weekend with.”
Tomlin has had impact on many players’ lives. Patrick Peterson said he is a coach unlike any other he has had, and that he pushes just the right buttons to make the game go the way he needs it to go. But more importantly, it is about Tomlin’s ability to be a leader of men off the field that gets the best out of his players on the field. That elite trait is what has largely made Tomlin one of the best coaches in the NFL today. Barber’s story is just another to file into the cache.