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Mike Tomlin's 2008 commencement speech at St. Vincent College one of NPR's 300 best of all time

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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin displayed his keys to success in commencement speech given to the 2008 graduating class of St. Vincent College.

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

"Regardless of the realities that await, dream and dream big."

These were just a few words in Mike Tomlin's commencement speech given to the graduating class at St. Vincent College in 2008.

So compelling was the speech, reports, National Public Radio made it one of its top 300 speeches ever.

Addressing St. Vincent's 162nd graduating class, Tomlin gave a speech that ran just under 16 minutes. He was awarded an honorary degree from the university along with a No.4 school jersey that bares Tomlin's name.

Tomlin started the speech by noting that he was a little nervous upon receiving the honor to give the commencement speech.

"I was at a loss, really," Tomlin said during his speech. "It was a little out of my comfort zone. I thought long and hard about what I would say to this group of people today. In the last two months, I've conducted 89 interviews with draft eligible prospects, some of which had college degrees. And I asked them what their commencement speaker said to them. They said they had no idea. That make me extremely comfortable."

Tomlin then made the metaphor of the commencement speech serving as a pre-game speech for life.

"This is what I do," Tomlin said. "I gather the Steelers around in a room very similar to this. And on the other side of the door awaits a tremendous amount of distraction. And what waits for you is very similar as to what waits for us on game day. But it's even bigger; it's the game of life.

"You will quickly find that true success is measured in how you play the game of life. That you honor those that have come before you by playing the game with great integrity, with honor, and class. I believe that there is an obligation that we all have. We're very blessed. We go through cycles in life where we learn, where we get out and do. You must give back. You must give back to your communities; you must be great members of communities. You must make this a greater place to live for all of us. That is your obligation. It may not register on the scoreboard of life, but that is an obligation that we all have to make this place better for our children, for our children's children, and so on. This group is capable of that. We can play to win, but we can play in such a manner that exhibits what we are about as people."

During his speech, Tomlin described himself as a big dreamer, and encouraged the graduates to do the same.

"Lastly, I mandate this: that you continue to dream the wild dreams that you continue to dream the wild dreams that you dream when you were young."

According to, National Public Radio (NPR) lauded Tomlin's speech, calling it one of the "Best 300 Commencement Speeches, Ever."