About that Mike Tomlin/Jacksonville Media Nonsense

This is so stupid.

Mike Tomlin made news on Wednesday because he hung up on the Jacksonville media during a conference call. The problems started early in the call when one reporter kept asking questions about the 2007 playoff game between the Steelers and Jaguars, which Jacksonville won, even though Tomlin made it clear he didn’t want to talk about a game that happened four years ago. And for good reason.

Tomlin has bigger and better things to worry about (like a game on Sunday). But they (or, more accurately, one AP reporter) refused to let up and continued to hammer away at it. Tomlin, who has no time or patience for tomfoolery during his press conferences (possible exception: Santa Claus, but even then he became annoyed by the end, and Jolly Old Saint Nick has yet to make a return appearance) finally asked if there were any relevant questions regarding the upcoming game before hanging up on the call.

This has led to quite the story over the past 24 hours, and it seems to be focussed on how Tomlin is still so upset about a game from four years ago that he hung up on people when asked about it.

First, here’s the Jacksonville angle on the story from Tani Ganguli of the Florida Times Union, where she identifies the reporter as a writer for the AP, and how the conversation, brief as it was, seemed to be pointed at making Tomlin complain about a missed holding call on David Garrard’s fourth-down scramble that set up the game-winning field goal, while the Jacksonville media had some laughs about it. Funny thing is, nearly every comment on that article is in support of Tomlin.

After digging around the Internet, here’s an AP story on the call, which I can only guess was penned by the reporter in question. Check out this excerpt:

The NFL later acknowledged that the officiating crew missed the call.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin got testy when asked about the game Wednesday and even hung up on Jacksonville reporters during a conference call.

“That’s one of those plays that you’ll never forget,” Tomlin said. “It was a big play.”

Presented in that context it appears that Tomlin is still upset about the non-call and is still complaining about it four years later.

But let’s look at the actual conversation and exchange as it happened, as presented by Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times:

Q: This is Jacksonville’s first game up in Pittsburgh since the 2008 playoff game. Any memories of that playoff game?
TOMLIN: Not really. I remember David Garrard of course on the draw on fourth down. That’s one of those plays that you’ll never forget. It was a big play.
Q: Did you send tape of that play to league office?
TOMLIN: No.
Q: Why not?
TOMLIN: Why would I?
Q: Wasn’t there a questionable non-call holding on that play?
TOMLIN: Guys, come on man. I’m not going to cry over 4-year-old spilt milk. Anybody got any legitimate questions?
Q: It was a big game from Jacksonville’s standpoint.
TOMLIN: Guys, that was four years ago. I understand that might have been a big game in Jacksonville four years ago but that’s old news. Many of those guys are no longer here and definitely many of the guys that were in Jacksonville are no longer there. Anybody got any questions relative to this week?

Totally different context, yes?

And that’s when Tomlin hung up on them. And for good reason.

This is why players and coaches hate dealing with the media. Pick a completely irrelevant story line (in this case, one that’s four years old), continue to try and hammer away at it when the subject has made it clear he doesn’t want to talk about it, and then frame what quotes he does give you completely out of context so it fits your story.

The lesson here: Don’t come into a pre-game press conference with questions about a game from four years ago.

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  • Anonymous

    Ganguli writes that Tomlin said “Thank you, have a good one,” before hanging up.

    In my vernacular, hanging up on someone features not saying “good-bye” or otherwise ending the conversation. Tomlin clearly ended the conversation the same phrase he often uses to end press conferences.

    Perhaps he cut the conference call short, but “hung up on them?”  I don’t think so.

  • GlennW

    Whatever.  It’s Jacksonville, they don’t have much to talk about (and that includes the Jaguars– ba doom boom).  Let them have their fun…

  • Anonymous

    You guys should get Emily Post on your next podcast to break down the audio tape.

    And yes, I know she’s been dead for 50 years.

  • Craigomcl

    The reporter was clearly trying to bait him, and refused an invitation to move the conversation into more productive territory. Good job in not rising to it. I’m not sure if he should have given other, more professional reporters more of a chance to discuss the actual football game, but I can hardly blame him either.

    Even the Jags SBNation site thinks it’s a non-story.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    I tweeted this earlier, but Jags fans agree with Tomlin — the Jacksonville media probably have more timely things to concern themselves with than a game from the 2007 season.

  • Randy Steele

    I. Just. Don’t. Care.

  • Gr8bcdanes

    that’s why the media is unbelievable at best.  anyone who accepts what is put out there verbatim needs to read this article.   yellow journalism.  period.