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Tomlin: 'It’s not the world I grew up in'

Posted Jan 16, 2018

Coach Mike Tomlin understands social media is changing things, but he doesn't let it concern him.

The way information is shared has changed, where social media has become a primary source of news for many, and a primary source where people can say things that are then heard by many, whether they intended that to be the case or not.

Coach Mike Tomlin gets it. He has a Twitter account, one he uses when he has a message to share, not one where he just randomly says things. Most of his players are on social media. His teenage sons are on social media. He knows it’s the norm now.

“I have teenage kids that are 16 and 17. I understand that is part of this world,” said Tomlin. “It’s not the world I grew up in. I am 45. I am learning to understand it. Learning to do it in the appropriate ways, that is the discussion. That is the realistic discussion. Whether we are talking about young players, or young people. Social media and the things that come with it aren’t going anywhere. And 45-year olds like myself that work to understand it and the positive aspects of it, and work to train younger people to utilize it and utilize it for good, that is the discussion.”

While he knows there are positive aspects, he also understands it can be used in other ways too. He knows it’s not just what you tweet that can become a story fast, but what you say when the cameras are rolling, when you are on record, or even when you think you are just having a conversation.

Last year Antonio Brown used Facebook Live to share Tomlin’s locker room speech, comments that were just meant for the team. Earlier this year Martavis Bryant was suspended for a game for his use of social media and comments he made about JuJu Smith-Schuster. A comment Mike Mitchell made about the Patriots the week after they played them in the regular season, made its way into a story leading into the Jaguars game, was then shared on its own on social media and not in the context of the story, and then had everyone saying the Steelers were looking ahead.

Tomlin knows how things can twist and turn in the wind, where comments are sometimes taken out of context, shared on social media, oftentimes quickly becoming a story that really never existed.

“One of the things that is changing in our business is the media attention and part of it is the development of social media and things of that nature,” said Tomlin. “I am fortunate enough that I have been in it long enough that I realize it’s changing in some ways, some of the norms are changing, and we have to change with it. I am less resistant to old norms. I am not worried about those things. They are really irrelevant.

“The amount of attention we all get is tenfold what it was 10-15 years ago. To try to keep that Jell-o in a box is a waste of time and kind of fruitless. We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what is said about us, or misinterpretation of what we say. We simply go about our work. What is important is what we say to one another. If it doesn’t come from one man to another, we don’t give it much thought or attention. We realize at times it might create a storm around us. That is not us. We don’t care. We can’t care. We can’t control it anyway. It’s an impossibility in today’s professional sports climate. That is my soapbox.”

And as he was speaking, proof of what he was talking about what playing out on social media. Tomlin was asked about his coaching staff, if there will be any changes.

“I am not ready to discuss that at this point,” said Tomlin. 

Immediately on social media it’s all about him not giving a vote of confidence to his coaching staff, comments that changes are going to be made. When all he simply said is he didn’t want to discuss it at this point.

“We focus on what it is that we do, our preparation and ultimately our play. We understand it as such,” said Tomlin. “Some of it is just quite frankly a joke. I can get asked about something in here and say I have no comment and then it’s like I denied something. No, I just didn’t have a comment. I can’t dance that dance. I can’t waste time in my day worrying about that. There is too much real stuff going on with us, tangible things, preparation things, role things, workplace things that are real as opposed to perceived, or interpreted or potential. That is just how it is.

“I am sure we are not different than anybody else in that light. We are more upfront talking about it than others. That is just how we deal with it. That is just our developing mentality. We aren’t overly concerned about things you might think we would be because it’s a waste of time.”