Showboating, Tomlin don’t mix
PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin must have felt like he was teaching the fourth grade last week.
Not only did he have to take ping pong privileges away from his players, he had to warn them against dangerous playground stunts.
The crackdown against ping pong, pool and other locker room games came in the week leading up to Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
It’s a principle all teachers embrace: No fun and games until the homework assignments are completed.
The Steelers have ping pong and pool tables in their expansive locker room at the team practice facility. They had been an issue earlier when team veterans determined that younger players couldn’t use them.
The vets banned the table games for any players who had less than four years of NFL experience.
Who knows how they arrived at that line of demarcation, but it didn’t matter once Tomlin declared the games off limits for all.
The Steelers beat the Jets for their first win of the season. The relationship of that successful outcome to the ban on games was probably just coincidental.
As much as Tomlin enjoyed the success in New Jersey, there was a part of it that rankled him.
That came on the game’s only touchdown, when Emmanuel Sanders celebrated a long touchdown completion by somersaulting into the end zone.
It was a cheap look-at-me stunt that a professional shouldn’t embrace, and it was potentially dangerous.
If he didn’t stick the landing precisely, Sanders took the risk of injuring himself. While that may sound like a cranky old man complaint, there’s merit in it.
Pro football is rough enough. Why take bumps that aren’t being inflicted by opponents?
So Tomlin said at Tuesday’s news conference that he’s also banned that sort of needless showboating.
“You don’t have to worry about anybody in the black and gold doing it any more,” was the way he put it.
The message wasn’t just for Sanders. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell had done something similar in the previous game. Once it starts, players think they should try to top the previous dive.
Ben Roethlisberger came this close to being tackled for a safety on the first series of the game against the Jets.
Who knows how things may have changed if the Jets had scored there, then gotten the ball on a free kick.
Roethlisberger is a big man, but he’s still elusive, and he still has a knack for sensing when trouble is looming.
Then again, he’s had a lot of practice.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org