UNITY TWP., Pa. — As the Steelers were moving into training camp on Thursday, their head coach Mike Tomlin had a one-year contract extension announced by the club.
Tomlin didn’t have a lot to say about the extension, but did thank the Rooney family for continuing to believe in him after the Steelers missed the playoffs last season.
“I don’t dwell a lot on that,” Tomlin said. “But not to say that it is not appreciated. I am blessed to have the opportunity to lead this group and am continually thankful for that.”
There’s been plenty of speculation as to what a one-year extension means when compared to the two-year extensions that had previously been offered, but Tomlin didn’t entertain that line of questioning.
“I really don’t think a lot about it, to be quite honest with you,” he said. “I focus on the task at hand, and if you do that, contractual things take care of themselves.”
The timing of the deal meant that many players were just finding out about the news as they spoke to the media for the first time this training camp.
Veteran cornerback Joe Haden summer up the mood:
“They did? F*** yes,” said Haden, a player that is looking for a contract extension of his own.
“I just love him. He’s one of the main reasons I always tell everybody why I came to the Steelers when I was a free agent: the way that he treats players, the way his coaching style is and ever since I’ve been here, I’ve just loved him even more. As long as he’s here, I’m just really excited about that.”
To a man, the Steelers praised Tomlin‘s work as their head coach and lauded the decision to keep him in town long-term.
“Congrats to him. I think it’s awesome,” guard Ramon Foster said. “That’s something that a lot of organizations don’t do. There’s not enough of that. Having that sense of comfort of having one coach, one team, you know what to expect. And that just gives him the validation that he’s doing his job.
Entering his 13th season, Tomlin is already the NFL’s third-longest tenured head coach. That means that he’s been a part of the organization longer than every player except quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
That means that he’s developed close relationships with nearly every returning Steelers player, and is a big reason that he is beloved in the locker room.
“He’s meant a lot to not only my success, but to everybody here,” said All-Pro defensive end Cameron Heyward. “He teaches us. He’s accountable. He lets us know when we drop the ball. But he does it on a level where he’s not just going to say it to you, he’s going to motivate you.”
Tomlin came under fire from the outside after the team went through a tumultuous 2018 season that ended with the departures of star offensive players Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
Some outside the organization felt that Tomlin’s player-friendly mindset fostered an environment that led to the misbehavior of his stars. But those players have been removed from the equation, and the ones that remain are very pleased that Tomlin is staying.
“He’s a player’s coach,” said cornerback Mike Hilton said. “He’s really in tune with his guys. He loves talking to us — not just about football, about anything. He shows that enthusiasm and is great to be around.