Mike Tomlin has a gift. He has the ability to say a lot of words that don’t really mean anything, yet still give people the impression that he said something meaningful. It’s a gift that all the great media savvy people in sports have (Sidney Crosby and Derek Jeter are great examples … they say a bunch of words that have no real meaning and watch as people just eat it up), and it was on display with Tomlin Tuesday afternoon.
While appearing on Sirius NFL Radio with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon, Tomlin was asked if Ben Roethlisberger would be guaranteed to reclaim his starting job after his four-game suspension.
Here’s what he said: “I’m going to dodge that one and not artfully. I’m not going to back myself in a corner.”
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t really tell me anything. He never answered the question one way or another. And here’s the response from around the Web…
– Mike Tomlin won’t commit to Ben Roethlisberger getting his job back [PFT]
– Mike Tomlin declines to say if Ben Roethlisberger will be Steelers starting quarterback after suspension [USA Today]
– Mike Tomlin won’t guarantee Ben Roethlisberger’s starting job [ESPN]
Ed Bouchette over at the Post-Gazette sounded off on Wednesday, and made the point that everyone around here already knows: No matter what happens in these first four games, Ben Roethlisberger will be the starter against the Cleveland Browns.
Anyone who saw how Tomlin played Roethlisberger in the preseason and how he used him in practices this summer would know that he went out of his way not only to get Roethlisberger ready to play for his return, but to send a statement loud and clear that Roethlisberger had his full support as the Steelers franchise quarterback.
Tomlin refused to give a radio interviewer the answer he was looking for, that Tomlin would definitely start Roethlisberger when he returned. Then, at his press conference Tuesday, Tomlin was asked if Dixon would keep the job if he plays well. I understood the question to mean would he keep it during Roethlisberger’s four-game suspension, and I believe everyone else at the press conference understood it to mean that as well. But some others not at the press conference apparently took it to mean would he keep it even when Roethlisberger returned.
And that’s the way it’s going to be. It’s been a while since the Steelers quarterback had to be a topic of debate, and the whole thing this preseason just reeks of manufactured controversy, from the bizarre infatuation with Charlie Batch, to the idea that Roethlisberger wouldn’t be guaranteed to be the starter in game No. 5.