PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – Unlike the situation in 2017 where they had games to prepare for along with dealing with social justice issues, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said they’ve had a lot of time to discuss current events and they have a plan going forward.
“It’s our intentions to support those guys in any statement or actions that they take as long as it is done so thoughtfully and with class,” Tomlin said on Tuesday. “And that includes kneeling. Those are my feelings. Those are also the feelings of us as an organization.”
The Steelers became front and center three years ago with the national anthem protests due to having Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva on the team. There was confusion as to the team message, but no longer.
“We are members of society like everyone else,” Tomlin said. “We don’t live in a vacuum. So it has been good, frank communications. And to be quite honest with you, our guys, by the virtue of team and football, really have a nice audience that many people don’t get an opportunity to have.”
Tomlin supports them using that platform and the team has established a structure and support system that includes Assistant Head Coach John Mitchell, who was the first black player at the University of Alabama.
“Working to make sure their intended statements or actions are interpreted in the correct way and represent their legitimate thoughts and feelings,” Tomlin said. “That is something we are transparent about.”
“We’ve talked openly with those guys about a lot of things that we say or do are going to be weaponized one way or another for political reasons. So we ask them to pause and really be thoughtful about the things that they say or do with that understanding.”
The Steelers 13 year head coach said he hadn’t thought about the impact the NFL has or what the responsibility of the league has as a whole towards social justice issues. Tomlin said he works more grassroots in supporting his players
“Statements are good, but impact is better, particularly long-term impact,” Tomlin said. “Those that have a desire to participate in a positive way, they will be supported by us.”