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Football players and coaches can often act intense and emotional during NFL games

Both head coach Mike Tomlin and rookie receiver George Pickens were caught having emotional outbursts during the Steelers game against the Falcons. In other news, the sun set in the west.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Picture this: A Steelers placekicker has just missed a crucial field goal in a big game. An opposing player, someone who often acts like a punk, goes over to Pittsburgh’s kicker and mockingly pats him on the head as if to say, “Great job!” A Steelers’ linebacker, someone known for his super-intense focus and intimidating demeanor, goes over to that opposing punk player and slams him to the turf.

Who are you picturing as the Steelers linebacker? Jack Lambert? No, that was a modern NFL player. Surprised? Well, shame on you.

The fact is, no modern Steelers linebacker would ever be universally celebrated for slamming an opposing team’s player to the turf like Lambert was for doing exactly that to Cowboys safety Cliff Harris in Super Bowl X.

Picture this: A Steelers receiver is greeted in the locker room by the head coach one day after a big win. The head coach asks, “So, what did you think of the game yesterday?” “To tell the truth, I’m a little pissed off,” responds the Steelers receiver. “Why?” asks the head coach. “I only caught one pass,” says the Steelers receiver. The coach asks, “What would you rather have, a lot of catches or a win?” “I’d like to think we could do both,” says the receiver.

Who are you picturing? Antonio Brown in 2017, better known as the year the Gatorade bucket went flying? No, that was John Stallworth at some point during the 1979 NFL season. Surprised? Well, shame on you.

Anyway, did you know Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answered a fan’s warm greeting during halftime of Pittsburgh’s game against the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday by saying, “Man, I’m {redacted} working!”? The coach had a menacing scowl and everything as he examined a piece of paper that presumably had to do with second-half adjustments.

I chuckled the first time I saw it, but that was before I sat down to examine the outrage cycle.

Now, I want to cry. It’s not that everyone is calling Tomlin a big old meanie for his response to this fan who somehow had access to the bowels of the stadium and, thus, got close enough to Tomlin to record him with his smartphone--as with everything else in this day and age, the opinions vary from the exchange being the best thing ever to the worst thing ever--it’s that everyone is weighing in as if it’s actually relevant to anything.

It’s not.

It’s football. Coaches are grumpy on their best days, and that demeanor is ratcheted up 10 times more when they’re strategizing in the middle of one of the 17 super-important work days they’re evaluated on every year.

Did you know legendary former Steelers head coach, the late, great Chuck Noll, told the NFL Films crew to get the bleep out of his face when he was talking to Terry Bradshaw on the sidelines late in Super Bowl XIV? You probably didn’t know that, but it happened, and thank goodness it happened in the relative darkness of 1980 when tweeting was just the sound a bird made.

Much like Lambert’s body slam, the people would have torn Noll a Belichick-sized new one had something like that been caught on camera in the modern era.

This brings us to George Pickens, the Steelers rookie receiver who was seen politely asking his coaches to “Throw him the {redacted} ball!” late in Sunday’s 19-16 win over the Falcons.

Did you know Pickens’s emotional outburst now means he could be the next AB? It’s like a precursor or something.

Yikes. I sure hope that doesn’t happen like it first did with Stallworth, who quickly went downhill after that exchange with Noll back in 1979. That’s right, Stallworth went full diva—he started to refer to himself in the third person and everything—and hasn’t been heard from since stripping down to his jockstrap and walking off the field during a game in 1981.

I kid. None of that actually happened to Stallworth. Instead, he went on to be named team MVP in 1979 before catching the Lombardi-clinching touchdown against the Rams in Super Bowl XIV. He finished out his career with 537 catches—retiring as the Steelers' all-time leader in that category—and eventually found himself in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

All receivers want the ball. All receivers complain about not getting the ball. All receivers pull a Keyshawn Johnson every now and then. No, they don’t write a book with a provocative title, but they do often say the words: “Just Give Me The Damn Ball!”—I’m guessing this happens in just about every game every receiver has ever played.

I can’t verify this, but Don Hutson, a Hall of Fame receiver who played for the Packers from 1935-1945, had to have occasionally said to his head coach, “I haven’t had a ball thrown my way all game? Well, what do you know about that? Either I’m off my nut, or you are!”

Football is a game of emotion. The coaches and players get emotional. It’s always been that way. The only difference today is the total access we have to everything as fans, including a VIP view of the head coach working at halftime.

You want that access? Fine. But just know you’re not always going to like seeing how the sausage is made.