On the 3,104th day of Mike Tomlin’s tenure as Steelers head coach, he and the team announced that their marriage – contractually – will last at least several hundred more days.
Or three-plus more years, to use the more generally accepted unit of time measurement, thanks to a two-year contract extension that ties Tomlin to the Steelers through the 2018 season.
Look at the young man Jan. 22, 2007, well before the term “Tomlin-ism” became an accepted part of the Yinzer vernacular:
Already, at just 43 (six years older than James Harrison), Tomlin is the NFL’s sixth-longest tenured head coach, trailing only Bill Belichick, Marvin Lewis, Tom Coughlin, Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton.
Eight-and-a-half years in the NFL can feel like an eternity. In the world of Pittsburgh sports it can, too.
A fun look at exactly how long Tomlin has been the Steelers coach:
—The Raiders have had five “permanent” head coaches (Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson, Dennis Allen, Jack Del Rio) and one interim head coach (Tony Sparano).
—The organization that shares a South Side practice facility with the Steelers – Pitt football – has had five “permanent” head coaches (Dave Wannstedt, Michael Haywood, Todd Graham, Paul Chryst and Pat Narduzzi) and three interim coaches (Phill Bennett, Keith Patterson, Joe Rudolph).
Among players, head coaches and general managers, only nine athletes and one administrator were with one of Pittsburgh’s three professional teams then and remain on them now:
- The Steelers’ LB James Harrison*, QB Ben Roethlisberger, LS Greg Warren, TE Heath Miller and GM Kevin Colbert.
- The Penguins’ C Sidney Crosby, C Evgeni Malkin, G Marc-Andre Fleury, D Kris Letang* and D Rob Scuderi*
- There are no Pirates players nor a coach nor general manager around from when Tomlin was hired – although a caveat is that OF Andrew McCutchen, 2B Neil Walker and RHP Jared Hughes were in their minor-league system.
*-Harrison and Scuderi spent time with other teams in the meantime but returned to the Steelers and Penguins, respectively, so I’ll count it. Letang was with his junior team when Tomlin was hired — but he’d already played in seven NHL games earlier that particular season, so it counts (albeit with an asterisk).
In terms of the news the teams were making….
—Three days prior to Tomlin’s hire, the Pirates stole the headlines – they acquired slugging first baseman Adam LaRoche in a trade and signed right-hander Shawn Chacon to a free-agent contract.
—Two days prior to Tomlin’s hire, Mark Recchi had a hat trick for the Penguins in an 8-2 win against the Maple Leafs.
—The day prior to Tomlin’s hire, despite 21 points off the bench by Ronald Ramon, Pitt basketball lost to Marquette in overtime to snap a seven-game winning streak and drop to 17-3 and from No. 6 to No. 9 in the AP poll that would come out 48 hours later. They’d go on to make the Sweet 16.
Yet for how very long it seems Mike Tomlin has been the Steelers’ head coach, perhaps this is the craziest part: He’d have to fulfill this contract and then add on three more years just to tie Bill Cowher as the Steelers’ second-longest serving coach.
To match Chuck Noll? Tomlin would have to coach until 2029.
Enjoy your day. Catch you next from Latrobe on Saturday.