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A Letter From the Editor: When the past doesn’t necessarily dictate the future

If you were to walk in a Steelers bar on a game day and suggest the organization is a no nonsense organization, and Mike Tomlin is a coach who wants to avoid drama at all costs you’d get laughed out of the bar.

Immediately you’d hear people say the typical names…

  • Antonio Brown
  • Le’Veon Bell
  • Martavis Bryant
  • LeGarrette Blount

Those four would definitely be at the top of the “Tomlin is a players coach, and that’s a bad thing” list. Fans would think back to all the shenanigans which were tolerated, and just assume that was the status quo for the organization to this very day. But the more I think about it, the more I think this fan narrative is a false narrative.

No, I’m not about to call the “Killer B” era a squeaky clean moment of Pittsburgh Steelers football, but just wanted bring up a few key talking points which might be overlooked from time-to-time in the Tomlin era. And, no, I’m not going to bring up how no Steelers team were a bunch of choir boys dating back to the teams in the 1970s.

The AB situation went from bad to worse at the end, but what was Tomlin supposed to do? What should he have done differently? Arguably the best non-quarterback in the league had gone AWOL, and it resulted in him being traded. Did Tomlin tolerate a lot during that time? He absolutely did, and most of you reading this would have done the same with a player that dominant.

Bell, Bryant and Blount essentially took care of themselves, either through their release, choosing to go elsewhere, or allowing the NFL to remove them from the game due to suspensions.

But this exercise isn’t to rehash all those old memories, but to ask a simple question: When did the Steelers find themselves embroiled in this type of drama either before or after that era?

Some might suggest last season’s ending with Mason Rudolph taking over, and the eventual offseason which saw Kenny Pickett traded would rank near that time period. But that pales in comparison to the aforementioned situations in that “Killer B” era, especially with the Steelers moving quickly this past offseason to move on from certain player who didn’t fit their organization’s future, instead of letting things fester.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that “Killer B” era of Steelers football was the outlier, not the norm.

When Tomlin was hired, he had solid leadership with players like Troy Polamalu, Maurkice Pouncey, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor, among others, to keep things in order. After Brown, Bell and Bryant left the organization, Tomlin’s teams found themselves with a new equilibrium, although JuJu Smith-Schuster’s pre-game dances sure did ruffle fans’ feathers.

To make my point, I feel as if the Tomlin era is not the narrative of the “inmates running the asylum” as many believe it is, but the situation boils down to just a few instances where I’m sure Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and company would all like to do differently if they could get a do-over.

So, when our source inside the Steelers organization suggests the Steelers are looking forward to a drama-free training camp, it makes sense this is how Tomlin wants to run his ship. And maybe it’s time for fans to alter their line of thinking, as it pertains to this topic, surrounding Mike Tomlin and how he likes to run his football teams.


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