I love football, but even if you don’t, stick with me. I think you’ll like the message of this post.
In case you didn’t know, Mike Tomlin is the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, not the Atlanta Falcons.
Individually, they don’t really have much to do with each other. In fact, I am not a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m an Atlanta Falcons fan. Yet, Tomlin gets a huge level of respect from me.
I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. If you’re not sure where that is, it’s a city in the southeastern United States, a little less than two hours north of Atlanta, Georgia.
So far, the Falcons have never won a Super Bowl Championship. We made it to the big game one time in 1998, but fell short. Fifty years in the league and we still haven’t won one. Ugh.
Some people ask me why I’m a Falcons fan. They tell me the Falcons are terrible and ask why I don’t cheer for someone else. I tell them that jumping ship now would be like swimming halfway across a river and, thinking you couldn’t make it, swimming back. It would be insane to stop now!
But that isn’t the real reason. You stick with your team through thick and thin. It’s like a family. As of this blog post, the Atlanta Falcons are doing really well this season. But I’ve been there in the stands when we were the worst team in the league.
And therein, is why I’m a fan. Without the struggle, there can be no true glory. How easy is it to be a New York Yankees fan or an Alabama Crimson Tide fan? How about the Los Angeles Lakers? All of those teams have tons of championships and they’re almost always good. But when they win a title, how great does it really feel?
Think about the other side: Falcons fans like me or fans of other teams like the Cleveland Browns/Indians/Cavs, Seattle Seahawks and Mariners, University of South Carolina, and the biggest of all, the Chicago Cubs.
What would it feel like if one of these teams won the Championship? It would be a wild party for weeks! Especially for the poor Cubbies.
Why? Why would it feel so much better?
Because of the struggle.
I love the Falcons because we are disrespected. I love them because we struggle to get to the top. And even if the team wins the Super Bowl this year, they will still be disrespected and be dubbed as underdogs next year. Well, that is just fine by me. Because every time the team wins, that win will be a sweet one. Someday, maybe we will get to that level where we have lots of championships but for now, the first one will be amazing.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the other side of the fence. They have lots of championships, millions of fans, and the team always seems to be good. While I don’t cheer for them, I have a lot of admiration for their coach. I’ve never met Mike Tomlin and I doubt he will ever read my little blog. That’s okay. I still have to give him props.
I listen to NFL Radio pretty much every day on my satellite radio. Coach Mike Tomlin calls in every Tuesday and I always hope to be in my car when he does.
The guy is perpetually positive and so upbeat that you can’t help but want to suit up and go play for him. His personality is that infectious.
Whenever he calls into the show after a loss, he talks about how they will keep working hard and get through the adversity. He never complains about injuries or other problems. This year, the Steelers have had plenty of things they could point to for excuses. But Coach Tomlin doesn’t. He talks about how adversity builds character, how it reveals the true nature of champions.
Coach Tomlin’s Steelers had to play the Giants in New Jersey this season. A huge problem named, Hurricane Sandy, popped up and ravaged the east coast. At the time of the game, there were still millions of people without power or a descent place to stay. Mike Tomlin knew that the hotel where the team would be staying could be used to help house some of the displaced victims of the disaster.
So, he changed plans.
The Steelers flew from Pittsburgh on the day of their game and flew back immediately after.
Changing up this plan could have resulted in a lot of problems come game time. The team could have been tired from traveling. The alteration of their routine could have been a factor. But he made the call anyway.
The Steelers won the game by four points that day but the result is irrelevant.
It’s worth noting that, during the game, there was a call that many pundits said the referees missed. On the radio the next day, the host of the show asked Coach Tomlin what he thought about the ref’s call. He told the host he hadn’t even thought about it. He said that adversity like that is a test of a team’s mental toughness. He said that you have to fight through stuff like that if you want to win.
And there it is. Adversity is why I love the Atlanta Falcons and Mike Tomlin.
Adversity is what makes the glory of success that much sweeter. And like Coach Tomlin said, adversity makes you tougher. It builds up your character.
I write books about fictional characters. Very often, those characters find themselves in extremely adverse situations. Just like Coach said, those are the times that test mental toughness. But when you come through those struggles, you are a better person. And the glory is that much more glorious.
Good luck the rest of the season, Coach.
Maybe me and the Falcons will see you in the Super Bowl. 😉