Bound and Gagged: Tomlin Giving Into NFL, Tells Steelers To Stay Mum.

Last year the Steelers locker room was more fired up than the Pacific ring of fire any time a fine was doled out by the NFL for ‘illegal hits.’  This year that tone has continued, yet slightly subdued.  Now, at a time when players should be spitting more venom than a cobra, the locker room is quiet and only whispered ‘No comments’ fill the air.

Why the change in tone?  Head coach Mike Tomlin told his players to keep quiet over their feelings about the NFL’s recent punishment to James Harrison.  In fact, according to safety Troy Polamalu, Tomlin told players to react with, ‘No comment.’  And like the good little soldiers they are, they are indeed staying quiet – save for Ike Taylor who at least used other punishments as a litmus to ‘compare’ how unfair Harrison’s suspension really is.

“Man, they’re tripping.  I don’t know what it is. [Harrison's] getting it handed to him in the NFL way … He didn’t stomp on nobody, he didn’t punch nobody’s private area.”

The stomp and punch refer to Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh for stomping a Green Bay Packer on Thanksgiving and Richard Seymour for punching a Miami Dolphins’ lineman at the beginning of December.  Both are repeat offenders for post whistle activities, neither have been suspended (Correction: Suh was suspended for his kick).  Harrison has been naughty during the whistle, and his actions have been football related.  Suh and Seymour’s actions are things you find out on the street or in a bar brawl (minus the splintering chairs) – with the full intent on hurting or injure someone.  Harrison’s hits are intended to be football plays with the intent to intimidate and make players think twice of running to his side of the field.  Hard hits are part of the game.  High hits have always been part of the game.  But I think we can all agree that Harrison’s hits have never been with the intent on giving a guy a concussion or result in prolonged damage.  Yet, Harrison is painted that way by the media who villainize him like his actions are equal to Suh’s or Seymour’s or your local knifer looking to score some crack on the street.

It’s bull shit and Tomlin should be allowing his players to be as vocal as they want to be.  By him keeping his players silent, it’s like he himself is agreeing with the league’s decision on Harrison.  Tomlin met with the Commish and other league officials earlier this season about illegal hits coming from his team.  I don’t know what was said by either side.  But it looks like Tomlin is ready to lie down and take it from the league.  Maybe they said, ‘Hey if you still want everyone in this league to think of you as a classy solid coach and you don’t want the media to tear you down, then you should just keep your and your team’s mouths shut.’  Too conspiratorial?  Not enough?

Either way, it’s crap.  And, I’m really P.O. that Tomlin is just letting a punishment like this happen with nothing being said.  Complacency for this kind of stuff will only enable and embolden the league to keep dishing out penalties that are too severe within the context of the offense.  It will send a trickle down effect that will cause players to second guess their technique and how they play and how they execute – remember Larry Foote on Arian Foster back in Week 4?

The players being bound and gagged by their own coach is a chilling situation.  I’m glad Taylor said at least something.  But it’s just not enough.

  • steelerfan

    This is a very misinformed article. You wrote ” Both are repeat offenders for post whistle activities, neither have been suspended,” referring to Seymour and Suh. Suh DID get suspended for 2 games. Also, how do you know Tomlin didn’t complain to the league. This article lacks context and facts. Why are you even able to post for this site? Why do you cuss throughout? Just awful.

  • steelerfan

    This is a very misinformed article. You wrote ” Both are repeat offenders for post whistle activities, neither have been suspended,” referring to Seymour and Suh. Suh DID get suspended for 2 games. Also, how do you know Tomlin didn’t complain to the league. This article lacks context and facts. Why are you even able to post for this site? Why do you cuss throughout? Just awful.

  • craig.gottschalk

    @steelerfan You’re right, I misspoke about Suh’s suspension. And no one knows what Tomlin and the league talked about and what was said behind closed doors. That’s the point – I’m expressing my opinion. That’s what a blog is. This is high brow sports journalism. If I want to say that the only reason Mendenhall still plays for this team is because he’s the only player Arians trusts to babysit his grandchildren, then I can say that if I want. It’s op-ed, dude. That said, if I feel like injecting ‘bull shit’ into a post because that’s how I feel, I can and will.

    Throw some context back onto yourself and realize what this site is – an NFL blog site for Steelers fans. If you can’t understand that it will be full of opinion and expressed ideas, then don’t read and head on over to ESPN for the mainstream stuff.

  • craig.gottschalk

    @steelerfan You’re right, I misspoke about Suh’s suspension. And no one knows what Tomlin and the league talked about and what was said behind closed doors. That’s the point – I’m expressing my opinion. That’s what a blog is. This is high brow sports journalism. If I want to say that the only reason Mendenhall still plays for this team is because he’s the only player Arians trusts to babysit his grandchildren, then I can say that if I want. It’s op-ed, dude. That said, if I feel like injecting ‘bull shit’ into a post because that’s how I feel, I can and will.

    Throw some context back onto yourself and realize what this site is – an NFL blog site for Steelers fans. If you can’t understand that it will be full of opinion and expressed ideas, then don’t read and head on over to ESPN for the mainstream stuff.

  • steelerfan

    Why haven’t you corrected your article? It still shows that Suh never received a suspension. And I read steeler blogs and mainstream. The blogs are often good with insider info, your blog however sounded like someone just spouting off. Also, if you don’t like mainstream, remove the links to your posts from SI. @craig.gottschalk @steelerfan

  • AmySchrecengost

    Listen, if they’re really that pissed off about this, maybe they should stage a coup, or at the very least quit their jobs, or resign from the NFL. Start your own league…others have done it before, with great success. Tomlins only mistake (IMO) was not telling his players to keep their damn mouths shut to the media earlier. There’s no need for it anyway. You can be pissed off about something and not have to air it out to the media, you know. You’ll still be as pissed off, but you won’t have to deal with the attention (unless you want it). Simply put, don’t spout off about something unless you’re prepared to take action against it…and I’m going to go ahead and assume that the players in todays high paid NFL system aren’t going to risk their paychecks to find a newer and crappier job. If you’re not going to quit the league though, or start your own league, just shut up and play. All the rest is just media fodder.__________________

  • craig.gottschalk

    @steelerfan Maybe because I’m a bit busy today. Sorry.

  • steelerfan

    Why haven’t you corrected your article? It still shows that Suh never received a suspension. And I read steeler blogs and mainstream. The blogs are often good with insider info, your blog however sounded like someone just spouting off. Also, if you don’t like mainstream, remove the links to your posts from SI. @craig.gottschalk @steelerfan

  • AmySchrecengost

    Listen, if they’re really that pissed off about this, maybe they should stage a coup, or at the very least quit their jobs, or resign from the NFL. Start your own league…others have done it before, with great success. Tomlins only mistake (IMO) was not telling his players to keep their damn mouths shut to the media earlier. There’s no need for it anyway. You can be pissed off about something and not have to air it out to the media, you know. You’ll still be as pissed off, but you won’t have to deal with the attention (unless you want it). Simply put, don’t spout off about something unless you’re prepared to take action against it…and I’m going to go ahead and assume that the players in todays high paid NFL system aren’t going to risk their paychecks to find a newer and crappier job. If you’re not going to quit the league though, or start your own league, just shut up and play. All the rest is just media fodder.__________________

  • craig.gottschalk

    @steelerfan Maybe because I’m a bit busy today. Sorry.