The relationship between former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann and current head coach Mike Tomlin goes far beyond the black-and-gold. The two coached together with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it was Tomlin who lured Mann out of his first retirement to come coach the Steelers’ wideouts.
2017 was it for Mann, and he recently spoke with Mike Bires of The Times in Aliquippa to talk to the local native about his time in Pittsburgh, and much more.
When asked if, at the age of 71, he was itching to get back on the field with the Steelers in less than a month when they return to training camp, he admitted he is feeling the itch.
“I have to admit that I do have the itch. We just watched (the Steelers’) highlight film from last year, and that got me all geared up. I probably shouldn’t have watched it. But I always said that I probably wouldn’t coach past 70. And I’m 71 now.”
Mann has been around the block a few times in the National Football League, and he has coached many receivers during that time. What every Steelers fan wants to know though is Antonio Brown the best he’s ever seen?
“People ask me all the time ‘How do you rate him compared to all the other receivers you coached over the years?’ I would never come out and say it. My first three years (with the Steelers), I held off saying it. But after being around him the past two years ... watching him master all the things I tried teaching him, with all the fundamentals and techniques he already has, yes, he is the best I’ve ever coached. He’s a good one, trust me.”
While those are big words for a spectacular player, what Mann had to say about Tomlin as a coach might have been the most poignant.
“I really appreciate the Steelers organization and Coach (Mike) Tomlin for getting me out of retirement the first time so I could to finish up here. I finished my career right where I started, in Aliquippa, and I was able to finish here with the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
“Mike Tomlin is the best overall coach I’ve been around when it comes to all three phases of football ... offense, defense and special teams. He’s got his hands in all of it, and to be able to do what he does, you have to put a lot of time into it. He’s smart. He’s doing an excellent job. So hats off to him.”
There are some who can’t stand Tomlin, and feel he is nothing more than a “cheerleader” on the sidelines, but when you hear one of his fellow coaches say he is the best overall coach in the NFL — that speaks volumes.
With Mann now out of the game again, Darryl Drake takes over with the wide receivers as he tries to shape Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and several others into the best all-around wide receiving corps in the NFL.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for training camp on July 25th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.