Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin has long been considered a 'players coach'. Someone players want to play for who doesn't necessarily lead as a dictator, but rules the roost from a different perspective. This simple fact makes the reality of Jason Worilds' retirement even more shocking considering Worilds spoke to Tomlin on several occasions, but never mentioned anything about walking away from the game.
GM Kevin Colbert already announced Worilds wasn't in the team's offseason plans, but he certainly was still on their radar. If no one went after him aggressively in free agency, the Steelers would have made an offer which fit both their budget and their needs.
Nonetheless, when obtaining a transcript of the Tomlin interview at the owners' meetings, the Steelers coach was asked twice if Worilds notified him of his retirement, and Tomlin's response tells you no such thing occured.
Did Jason Worilds talk to you before retiring? And what do you think of all the early retirements?
I've had several conversations with Jason, not about retirement, prior to his retiring. I hadn't discussed that with him. I respect his decision. I respect any man's decision to choose to work in this business or not work in this business. It's a tough way to earn a living. And you have to be 100% committed to it, and if you are not then that is the appropriate decision. I champion that. I respect his decision. And I wish him well.
Did you know of Jason Worilds' desire to retire?
I didn't talk to him about retirement. No.
The fact Worilds kept this decision to himself during what should have been his big pay day as a free agent points to nothing but a shocking announcement to the Steelers organization. Although Colbert alluded to a lack of interest from the Steelers, it still had to be a shock to the front office when a Worilds' return was no longer a possibility.
What might be even more of a shock is the fact Mike Tomlin could have found out at the same time as we, the fans, did. Jason Worilds has made enough money in his career to be financially set for life, and Tomlin might have said it best when referring to a player not being 100-percent committed to the sport, it should be time to walk away.