Each summer for the last 10 years, Mike Tomlin has hosted a youth football camp in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia for the Hampton Road Youth Foundation. When not working with the kids, Tomlin has traditionally always made time to talk with Bruce Rader of WAVY TV 10 to answer a few questions ahead of the upcoming season and this year was no exception.
While the interview is always rather gentle and the line of questioning somewhat soft, Tomlin seems to appreciate the change of pace from the grilling he gets in Pittsburgh and there are often one of two insights worth sharing.
Talking on topics ranging from how he focuses his team for a new season to his hopes that there would be news of a new extension for Le’Veon Bell before the deadline on Monday at 4 p.m ET, it was his response to a question about the similarities between parenting and being a head coach that was perhaps the most revealing about Tomlin. As he told Rader.
“Hey I’ll tell you, my sons are 16 and 17 now, man I really see the parallels, you know. It is [similar] in a lot of way because if you want to truly be successful leading the men, it goes beyond the X’s and O’s in football, you’ve got to be willing to help them in growth and development in every aspect of their life, and that’s a part of the job that I embrace.”
As much as Tomlin’s main goal is to win a championship each year, his desire to impact the lives of his players beyond the world of football has always been one of his more admirable qualities to my mind.
Some may question how successful he has been in this endeavor given the off-field antics of some of his players, but there are few parents who can honestly say they are proud of everything their children have every done. Ultimately, the respect and admiration his retired former players seem to have for him speaks volumes about the impact Tomlin has had on their lives. It will be interesting to note if and how this approach changes as he gets older.