TV Exec Eyes Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, Sees Next Tony Romo

Mike Tomlin

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game against the Denver Broncos on November 25, 2018.

Television executives like Fred Gaudelli, the longtime executive producer of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” are always on the lookout for the “next Tony Romo.” That is, the next NFL player or coach with the potential to make a seamless transition into broadcasting with the same kind of success as the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, who reportedly earns $17.5 million per year with CBS.

“When I come across someone who is intelligent or personable or funny, someone I think could do the job, I put them on the list,” Gaudelli recently told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, before revealing that he has eight names on his so-called “Potential Talent” list, with one name—that of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin—seen as a cut above the rest.

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“Tomlin, to me, he would be transformational,” said Gaudelli, before explaining his thought process to Deitsch. “I mean, he’s got a language all of his own that everybody can understand. 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. If you said to me you can take one guy out of the league right now, it’s not even a hard call. It’s Mike Tomlin.”

The Language of Tomlinisms

Indeed Tomlin’s penchant for repeatedly coming up with memorable ways to characterize football situations (which Steelers fans refer to as Tomlinisms and Deitsch calls “a language all his own”) would seem to be a huge asset in a broadcasting environment. Think:

– The Standard is the Standard
– We don’t live in our fears
– Football in shorts
– We need volunteers (not hostages)
– Two dogs, one bone

That phraseology is perhaps one reason why Gaudelli has Tomlin above the other current NFL coaches on his list, those being Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay, the latter of whom was also mentioned (along with Tomlin) when Deitsch interviewed ESPN vice president of production Seth Markman.

Mike Tomlin Recently Signed a Contract Extension

Of course, Tomlin isn’t likely to leave the NFL sideline for the broadcast booth anytime soon. He just signed a three-year contract extension that ought to keep him in the employ of the Steelers through the 2024 season. And if he has a better than .500 season in 2021, he will break the NFL record for most consecutive non-losing seasons to start a head coaching career (14), which he currently shares with the late Marty Schottenheimer (who set the record coaching the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs).

But that hasn’t stopped Gaudelli from going to Tomlin and floating the idea of a post-coaching career transition into broadcasting.

According to Deitsch, Gaudelli laughed when thinking about Tomlin’s reaction to the idea.

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

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