Nearly a week since Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin executed the Two Step Heard ‘Round The World, Steeler Nation has been bracing for the inevitable consequences. Yesterday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally deigned to step down from Mount Olympus and pass down punishment for The Blunder. As usual when the Ginger Dictator deals with the Black and Gold, his punishments were both harsh and potentially very damaging. At least he’s consistent.
The first – and least – important part of Ginger’s ruling was a cool $100,000 fine for Tomlin. That may sound like big money to you or I but to a head coach making $5 million, it’s not much different than an average worker getting docked $150. As an aside, can anybody else believe that goof Tomlin gets paid five MILLION dollars to lie his ass off at press conferences and embarrass the franchise on national television? Meanwhile, a truly great head coach like Bill Cowher was sent into retirement because the team didn’t feel he was worth a top salary.
Anyway, the harshest part of Goodell’s ruling has yet to come. In addition to Tomlin’s fine, the league issued a cryptically worded release that basically boiled down to, “We’re going to take a draft pick or picks, we just haven’t decided yet.” To give you some idea how damaging this is, rumor has it the Steeler front office told they league they’d prefer they SUSPEND Tomlin rather than take away draft choices. If you ever needed proof positive that even his own organization views him as an expendable lightweight, there it is.
The general theory is the draft choice(s) the league will take away will be determined by how the Steelers ultimately finish. They’re currently picking 11th, which is high enough that losing a premium choice – say a second rounder – would be plenty damaging. If by some miracle they were to catch fire and make some sort of playoff run where they wound up finishing with a pick in the mid to late twenties, I can see where the league might decide to take away multiple picks.
In either scenario, the Steelers are going to pay dearly for Tomlin’s stupidity. We already don’t have a third rounder this year – it was traded to the Cleveland Browns in last year’s draft so we could pick up an early 4th rounder to take safety Shamarko Thomas. Subtract a second or a fourth and fifth and you’re looking at a pretty lean draft. Kevin Colbert and company already have a pretty spotty track record with drafting young talent, nothing like expecting them to rebuild this aging team with fewer picks and less margin for error. If the Ginger Dictator docks them a second rounder, they might as well show up for round one and then go on vacation the rest of the weekend.
I’ve seen some fans howling that the Steelers got off “easy.” Easy would’ve been suspending their bungling head coach for the rest of the season. Setting the franchise back a year by inhibiting the rebuilding process is hardly easy. In fact, it’s hitting the Black and Gold right where it hurts.