Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Reveals Why He Invents ‘Tomlinisms’

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers open training camp on July 26, so a new season’s worth of Mike Tomlin’s famous catchphrases — aka ‘Tomlinisms’ — is just around the corner. Last summer yielded “we’re still squirreling those nuts,” to name but one example, Tomlin’s way of indicating that roster decisions had yet to be made.

During his recent appearance on The Pivot podcast (with former Steelers safety Ryan Clark, former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor and ex- Miami Dolphins running back Channing Crowder) the longtime Steelers head coach explained why he develops the catchphrases that NFL players and fans have come to know and love.

“I’m trying to capture a thought, succinctly, without damn talking too much. Because I just hate talking. I’d rather do,” he explained.

“That’s why I came up with the phrase, ‘football is a game, our business is winning,’” he elaborated. “Because I can go to that, and if I go to it enough, people know what I’m saying and I don’t have to talk all day. There are certain business-oriented things that come with what we do at this level that we all understand. So, let’s not hide from it, let’s not hide behind it. There’s a business component of this thing and when we are winning the business is being handled and if we’re not, it’s not.”

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Mike Tomlin: ‘The Next Tony Romo’?

Tomlin’s famous catchphrases are one reason why the Steelers coach will likely have the opportunity to become a television analyst after he’s done coaching — assuming he wants that. In June 2021, Fred Gaudelli — longtime executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football — said Tomlin was at the top of his list of NFL players and coaches with the potential to be a spectacularly successful broadcaster. Tomlin could be “the next Tony Romo,” as he put it, calling the 50-year-old Hampton, Va. native “transformational.”

“I mean, he’s got a language all of his own that everybody can understand,” Gaudelli told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic. “He’s got a really expressive personality. You’d want him in the studio so you could see him more, but I think he’d be equally good on a game.”

Tomlin doesn’t see it happening, though. In fact, Gaudelli has already pitched Tomlin on the idea.

“He told me, ‘Fred, I’m never coming to the dark side,’” Gaudelli told Deitsch.


Mike Tomlin Is Under Contract for 3 More Seasons

Never is a long time, but Tomlin figures to remain the head coach of the Steelers for years to come, to the chagrin of some critics, who believe Tomlin should be on the proverbial hot seat, or at least a seat that’s lukewarm.

In the spring of 2021, Tomlin signed a three-year extension that binds him to the team through the 2024 season, giving him the chance to build on his 154-85-2 career record (.643). That’s not unlike the regular-season record (.623) compiled by his predecessor, Bill Cowher, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020. Both Cowher and Tomlin have a 1-1 record in the Super Bowl.

According to a 2021 report by Sportico, Tomlin is the fifth-highest paid coach in the NFL, with a salary of $11.5 million per year.

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