One question for Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Where were you when Colin Kaepernick was in trouble with the NFL and needed a brother to help out?
The answer is nowhere to be found.
But now, four years later, Tomlin has come to the rescue of fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores.
Despite Flores suing the NFL, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, Tomlin has hired Flores as an assistant coach.
For a guy who most thought would never coach again in the league after alleging racial discrimination against teams in their hiring practices, Flores is back in the fold making NFL loot as his lawsuit, which is embarrassing to the League, against the league works through the court system.
It’s an incredible gesture by Tomlin — a long-tenured and successful coach who has never had a losing season. Yes, Tomlin threw Flores a life preserver.
“I just didn’t want him to feel like he was on an island,” Tomlin told reporters Sunday from the league meetings in Florida. “From a coaching fraternity standpoint, I owed him that. I was in position to provide that. I think that started our interactions and conversations.”
Tomlin could have done the same thing for Kaepernick. The impact would have been huge and just. After all, Kaepernick’s only crime was that he cared for others and staged a personal, silent protest.
When asked if he had any comment on Kaepernick’s kneeling, Tomlin simply replied. “I don’t.” And when he was then asked if he spoke to his players about it, he said, “I don’t have a comment whatsoever regarding it.”
Easily, Tomlin could have signed Kaepernick as a quarterback. He could have been backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisbeger, then and be in position to be the starter this season with the retirement of Big Ben.
The Rooneys — of all owners — could have been open to it. First, they hired a Black coach. Many other NFL teams can’t say that.
Their ownership started the Rooney Rule in the NFL that essentially forced white owners to interview Black candidates for head coaching gigs and decision-making front office jobs.
If there was any organization that would have been perfect for Kaepernick, it would have been Pittsburgh.
But Tomlin was as wrong about Kaepernick as most of the white owners, white fans and many of his Black counterparts on other teams who ostracized and criticized Kaepernick at the time.
Somehow, they all came around and changed their tunes when many took to the streets in 2020 and protested the very thing Kaepernick gave up his NFL career for: racial injustice and police brutality against people of color.
Yes, Kap was right. And it was a cause worth fighting for. Tomlin couldn’t see it.
It fact, in 2019, Tomlin wouldn’t even consider the idea of adding Kaepernick after the Steelers lost Roethlisberger for the season
By the way, that’s the year the Steelers needed a QB and added Mason Rudolph, a third-round draft pick. He was terrible then and is still terrible, and still on the Steelers’ roster.
Shamefully, Tomlin wouldn’t even address questions from the media about Kaepernick.
Two months later in 2019, when Kaeperick had a workout for NFL teams, Tomlin’s Steelers were among the seven NFL teams that didn’t show up to see the quarterback who once led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl.
Today, Tomlin is basking in the praise from some who think he’s a hero for reaching back and helping a brother out.
Tomlin said he was proud of the Steelers’ organization. He went out of his way to praise team owner and president Art Rooney II for hiring Flores with the pending lawsuits hanging over the league’s head.
“To have an opportunity to impact the game in a positive way, to impact society in a positive way, it’s continually an honor to be a part of something that the Rooney family started and led for a long time before my existence here.”
Sounds beautiful. But it’s all phony.
Tomlin was the logical one to help and shelter Kaepernick at the time of his distress.
Tomlin was a winning coach with clout and a ring. He worked for a team that historically has gone against the grain and been open to new ideas. Tomlin and Kaepernick are fraternity brothers. Sounded like the perfect scenario.
Instead, Tomlin looked the other way, turned his back on a man who will ultimately have a bigger impact on the world than a short-sighted coach.
Now, Tomlin is standing out front with his chest stuck out, bragging that he helped a brother in need.
Hard to embrace his good deed when he swung and missed on the most important deed Tomlin could have pulled off in his career.