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It’s Hell being on top

first_imgAt this stage in the “game” of life a few folks are probably in the midst of one of these three stages. Stage one: having or had a very merry, cherry Christmas. Stage two: not having celebrated or even had any feelings one way or another. And most important (at least to me) is stage three: the ole fake and L-tryptophan inspired New Year’s resolution. I currently have no plans on making any vows for 2012 because except in one or two instances during my lifetime, I have not even come close to keeping the promises I made to myself. I am the first to admit that I been a bit hard on Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin since he arrived in Pittsburgh. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, but I was truly attempting to assist him in becoming thick skinned in regards to what he was about to face.One of the questions posed to Tomlin at the post game press conference after the Steelers dismantled the St. Louis Rams by the score of 27-0, was, “What did you learn about your team going into the playoffs?” There were snickers throughout the press room. Duh, I wish someone would have asked Bill Cowher or Chuck Noll that same question. Can you imagine the cold stare they would have gotten from “The Emperor” or the look of disgust that they would have received from Cowher? How much of a test was it for the Steelers and what possible lessons could Tomlin have taken from his team playing the Rams, an NFL bottom feeder for nearly a decade, that on Christmas Eve sported a 2-12 record entering Heinz Field to compete against a team who is almost always at the top of the NFL food chain.Another question Tomlin seemed to “take in stride” was this one. “Coach, could you comment on the tackle that Antonio [Brown] made on the Rams fake punt?” Tomlin responded, “I didn’t see it, actually I was talking to Ike Taylor and William Gay on a defensive adjustment.” By the way, Mike Tomlin is truly a football genius because at this juncture of his career he thoroughly understands that when anyone is evaluating anything, anywhere, anytime, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” The majority of the credentialed scribes in Pittsburgh came to the flawed conclusion many years ago that certain players represented the “whole,” while the remaining participants were just bit players. This would seem to certainly include (at least in their minds) the head coach. Hey not so fast; well maybe not head coaches in general but a leader who in the slanted and biased view of the majority of us charged with covering professional football just a tad insignificant in regards to the outcome of the game because his skin contained excessive amounts of melanin.I have heard and witnessed my colleagues gushing over the intellect of certain guru’s that have the responsibility of guiding their franchises on the field. However, when the subject of Tomlin surfaces, it seems as if he is a mere footnote when it comes to the outcome of the games. The most recent resident “intellect” in the NFL is the headmaster of the reigning Champion Green Bay Packers, Mike McCarthy. Just prior to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas there were several features produced on McCarthy, a Pittsburgh native.I understand that Mr. McCarthy is part of the “yinzers” network but give the head coach of your “hometown team” equal billing. When Pittsburgh has a great defensive game Dick LeBeau gets the credit, ditto for the offense and Bruce Arians.Just prior to the Steelers/Cardinals Super Bowl XLIII matchup in Tampa, the majority of the bright lights were focused on Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt, the man who was surely cheated out of the Steelers head coaching job by the “Rooney Rule.” The “majority of the Pittsburgh media “establishment” were openly rooting and cheering for Whisenhunt to prevail over Tomlin just so they could be proven right. What issue did they feel needed to be proven?The matter that had to be confirmed was that the man who paid his dues would almost always prevail over someone who was “handed” the reins of the leadership position.I have resigned myself to the fact that the sitting majority will always equate superior numbers to equivalent intellect. That sort of flawed, biased reasoning and analysis, my friends, will almost always result in damaging the psyches and lowering the esteem of those who are threatened with the progression of those that they consider inferior.I will roll out of the gate as soon as the ball drops in Times Square and usher’s in the year 2012. I will cover and write about sports with clarity, dignity and respect. If it appears at times that I am giving Mike Tomlin or any other African-American the benefit of the doubt, close your eyes and count to ten because I probably will be, Happy New Year.(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: [email protected] or 412-583-6741. Bruce is also the NFL/AFC North analyst on the “Odd Couple Sports Show’ streaming live on Fox Sports radio; WCWA 1230am, Toledo, Ohio, Wednesdays from 11-11:30 a.m.)last_img read more