After the Pittsburgh Steelers field goal-ed the Kansas City Chiefs into elimination, wide receiver Antonio Brown decided to stream Mike Tomlin’s postgame locker room comments on Facebook Live for the clicks like some bottom-feeding blogger.
Tomlin’s message to the team in advance of the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots was to hunker down and focus without creating unneeded distractions.
“When you get to this point in the journey, not a lot needs to be said. Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We spotted those as****** a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming. Because some of us might not like the damn [unintelligible]. The chest pounding. Keep a low profile.
Another voice seemed to jump in and shouted, “Keep cool on social media, this is about us, nobody else.”
That message must have been sponsored by the U.S. Department of Irony. Predictably ubiquitous headlines playing up Tomlin’s a-hole characterization have abounded and rightly so. In many ways this story is too 2017 not to enjoy.
But, let’s pump the brakes before putting any importance on this speech and resulting distraction in the real world. What Tomlin said was quite tame by locker room standards. And we’ve learned that forgiveness for that type of talk has never been more freely given.
If you think football coaches don’t call other teams “a-holes” or any other number of sphincter-based synonyms on the regular, then congratulations, you’re living a blissfully naive life. If you think these comments will have any meaningful impact on the Patriots’ motivation, you don’t know Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Something tells me that these guys wanted to make it to the Super Bowl before Tomlin opened his mouth. Something tells me that franchise was going to be able to muster the energy to get up for a championship game even without this video. Something tells me Belichick has said some unpleasant things behind closed doors.
The Patriots are always, to use Tomlin’s words, “ready for that ass.” More than that, though, they are the perfect example of how trivial off-field drama is when elite talent and coaching is around to perform on Sundays. Think of the scandals that have surrounded the Patriots for the last decade-plus. Now consider their success.
This year’s Steelers are a lot more like recent Patriots teams than they are like this year’s Giants who laid an egg after Odell Beckham’s boat bonanza. Having Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and James Harrison allows room for all types of distractionary behavior.
Hell, Tomlin could have sacrificed a live goat in the bowls of Arrowhead Stadium and I’d still give Pittsburgh a fighter’s chance to pull the upset in Foxboro on Sunday. If anything, his comments suggest the Steelers are going to take the fight to the Patriots and not play scared (if they suggest anything, which they don’t.)
See how easy this is?