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Mike Tomlin needs to stop referring to football as “ball”

It was a few years ago when I first heard Mike Tomlin speak in a particular shorthand when discussing football.

He was talking to a group of high school football players and describing everything he did when he was their age to get the most out of his abilities. Tomlin mentioned his daily activities and how they were all geared toward “ball.” His life was all about ball. He ate, slept and breathed ball. When he wasn’t studying for school, he was studying ball. When he wasn’t sleeping, he was thinking about ball. When he wasn’t sitting, he was exercising with ball in mind.

Obviously, Tomlin was talking about football. Therefore, all of the balls I typed in the second paragraph should have been preceded by an apostrophe.

Anyway, this was the first I had heard of football being referenced in this kind of shorthand, so I didn’t pay it any mind. I was just focused on Tomlin talking to people, and when Coach Tomlin talks to a group, I immediately go and find the nearest brick wall to run through.

I believe Tomlin soon regularly began to call football ‘ball when talking to reporters during his weekly Steelers press conference. That’s no surprise, because ‘ball seems like an elitist and pretentious way to refer to the game of football; since Tomlin has so much open disdain for the media, I have a hard time believing he believes any reporter knows ‘ball.

It wasn’t long after that that all the cool kids began referring to football as ‘ball. “Hey, that’s ‘ball.” Or, “You don’t know ‘ball.”

I get told I don’t know ‘ball all the time now. I never said I did, but if you want to degrade me in such a fashion, can you please use the whole word? Better yet, don’t–simply referring to football as ‘ball is way more torturous to my sensibilities than being told I don’t know football. My goodness, if you really want to hurt me, you should show no mercy and say something really annoying like, “Tell me you don’t know ‘ball without telling me you don’t know ‘ball.”

While you’re at it, why don’t you go all out with your ‘ball elitism and ask me if I watched a specific player’s tape? (Btw, the answer to that question is always “no,” since I’m usually too busy watching grass grow.) If you want to finish me off for good, you can throw in something about draft capital.

Moving on.

I realize football thinks it’s the be-all and end-all of all of the ‘balls, but since when did that sport take ownership of the word ball? What about basketball? What about baseball? Speaking of baseball, what’s the first sport that pops into your mind whenever someone is described as a good ballplayer? If you say any sport besides baseball, you’re a lying liar.

Football is described as ‘ball by everyone now. 93.7 The Fan has a segment called “The Wheel of ‘Ball.” I saw a podcast on YouTube titled, “‘Talkin’ ‘Ball,” which I believe was about Idaho’s college football team.

Perhaps, I’m being too hard on Tomlin and misplacing the blame for the growing ‘ball phenomenon. After all, I don’t think it’s fair when someone accuses Tomlin of having no control over his players when one of them gets into trouble four states away.

Having said that, Tomlin was the first person I heard refer to football that way, and someone has to be on the hot seat for it.

When the cool kids begin to refer to football as ‘ball, don’t they realize it marginalizes people like me who clearly aren’t well-versed in the X’s and O’s of the sport?

What’s next? Is my mom, who, unlike me, follows the annual NFL Combine, going to start referring to football as ‘ball?

The second Mom starts asking me about draft capital, I’m out!


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