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A Letter From the Editor: Damned if you do and damned if you don’t

This past week the news which rocked the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base was a contract extension. No, not to a player, but to a coach. At this point you know I’m referring to the 3-year contract extension to head coach Mike Tomlin. If you follow the latest NFL news on social media, or the Steelers specifically, it is safe to say this decision by the organization was not welcomed by the entirety of the fan base.

Not that any decision is ever embraced by everyone, but there is a sect of the fan base who was not happy with the Steelers electing to keep Tomlin through the 2027 season.

As the week went on, and the dust settled on the news, I found myself thinking about the decision. When I think about these type of decisions, I try to remove my own personal opinion and see both sides of the docket. In this case, I couldn’t help but see it as a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for the Steelers.

How would this situation fall into that category?

Let’s talk it out…

If the Steelers were going to part ways with Tomlin, the decision would have been made immediately after last season. Firing a coach, and waiting to do so, would allow the new prospective coaches to find a new home and leave the organization with limited options to bring in their next head coach. Once the decision was made to not fire Tomlin following the Wild Card loss to the Buffalo Bills, it seemed inevitable he would be getting an extension.

Why, you ask?

The Steelers would never want to put Tomlin in a “lame duck” coaching situation. In case you don’t know, a “lame duck” situation/season is when a coach is working on the final year of his current contract. Therefore, with no guarantee of a next year. But if we are going to talk about situations and scenarios, imagine what that would look like if the Steelers rolled into this season with Tomlin on the final year of his current deal.

All the coaches who were just hired would be wondering what their future would hold, considering Tomlin might not be there after the 2024 season. Likewise, players who signed as free agents, most to play for Tomlin, also would be wondering if they would stick around after Tomlin would likely leave after this season.

In other words, it would be a very uncertain, and uneasy situation for everyone involved. Keeping with that scenario, the organization would have to try and find a new coach, something they haven’t had to do since 2007, and there is no guarantee they find the next cornerstone of the organization.

Obviously, the Steelers chose to keep Tomlin. They chose to stick with consistency, and that’s been a foundation of the organization since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969. There are many who wanted the team to shake it up and think outside the box. To make a drastic move to hopefully ignite change within the organization, mainly the change of playoff success.

But there is no guarantee the new coach would have been any more successful than Tomlin with a new contract giving him long term security. This is where the Steelers were in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

Keep Tomlin, some fans wish for change, but you know what you’ll get with Tomlin at the helm.

Get rid of Tomlin, those fans who demanded change would be appeased, but there is no guarantee the results would even equal what the team has had with Tomlin since 2007.

There is no way to make everyone happy, but the Steelers obviously believe in Tomlin and his ability to lead this team back to the promised land. There will be detractors, just like there always are, but understand the situation was far from simple for Art Rooney II and company.

Will Tomlin last throughout the entirety of his new contract, that’s a discussion/article for another time.


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