Third Man In
He's just the third Steelers coach in the past 38 years. And he's only 35. But as Pittsburgh's players have already learned, Mike Tomlin is a no-nonsense motivator in the mold of his two predecessors
Posted: Tuesday May 15, 2007 10:55AM; Updated: Tuesday May 15, 2007 3:41PM
One night last week a family new to Pittsburgh -- husband and wife, three kids ages six years to 11 months -- walked into the neighborhood bistro La Tavola Italiana atop Mount Washington for dinner. The husband had been there before. He moved around the place in a comfortable, self-assured way and recognized the Sicilian cook and owner, Carmela Giaramita, right away. "Mom!" he said affectionately, then bear-hugged her. She wasn't really his mother but had been so accommodating and friendly in his previous visits that he felt a kinship.
"Such a nice man!" Giaramita purred. "And what a beautiful family!"
New Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, 35, was seated at a corner table with his wife, Kiya, sons Dino and Mason and baby daughter Harlyn. Tomlin had his usual, Pasta alla Ben, a fusilli-and-sausage dish named after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who introduced him to the place in January.
"It's starting to feel like home here," said Tomlin, who in 12 seasons as a college and pro assistant had lived in six cities. "It's an awesome feeling to finally be in a place you can call home. For so many years, we've felt like migrant workers."
"When we move into a house," said Kiya, "the first thing I think of is not how beautiful it is. I think resale value."
"Baby," Tomlin, smiling, said to his wife, "I've got a feeling we'll be here awhile. This is where we'll raise the kids."
As the Steelers' third coach since the Nixon Administration -- the archrival Browns, by contrast, have had 13 since Chuck Noll took the Steelers' reins in 1969 -- Tomlin has every reason to feel as if he hit the coaching lottery in succeeding Bill Cowher. Having just finished his first season as a defensive coordinator, with the Minnesota Vikings, he was a long shot to get the job over two longtime Cowher offensive assistants, line coach Russ Grimm and coordinator Ken Whisenhunt (box, page 59), and two other candidates -- just as he had beaten long odds when, as a precocious 28-year-old in 2001, he beat out 10 older men to become the secondary coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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