Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin signs 3-year extension, knows he has 'bigger calling' than coaching

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to embark on a new era, and a familiar face will be there to lead them into it.

Pittsburgh gave head coach Mike Tomlin a three-year extension on Tuesday, keeping him with the team through the end of the 2024 season.

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“Mike is one of the most successful head coaches in the National Football League,” team owner Art Rooney II said in a statement. “We are confident in his leadership to continue to lead our team as we work to win another championship.”

By signing the extension, Tomlin made it clear he intends to oversee the transition to a new quarterback when Ben Roethlisberger decides to retire. The 39-year-old Roethlisberger reworked the final year of his contract to return for an 18th season back in March.

Tomlin led the Steelers to a 12-4 record last season, reaching the postseason for the ninth time in his 14 years in charge. They won their first 11 games and captured the AFC North title for the third time in five seasons thanks to the hot start.

The youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl, Tomlin owns a career record of 145-78-1 and has never had a losing season. If the Steelers win at least nine games in 2021 (with the expanded 17-game schedule), he will be the only coach in NFL history without a losing season in their first 15 years.

“I am extremely grateful for this contract extension and want to thank Art Rooney II and everyone in the organization for the support in my first 14 seasons,” Tomlin said in a statement. “We have a goal of winning the organization’s seventh Super Bowl championship, and I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about this upcoming season.”

Throughout his time in the NFL, Tomlin has often shared about his faith in Christ. In June 2020, he spoke at the virtual ManUp Conference in Pittsburgh, and discussed a variety of topics, including the pandemic, the fight for racial justice and the negative effects of fatherlessness.

“I challenge this group, this ManUp group 2020,” he said, “to make an impact, to touch the lives of the fatherless in your communities, to be active participants in enriching their lives in a Godly way.”

He will once again speak at the conference this summer. As Tomlin explained in last year’s speech and on an episode of the UNPACKIN’ it podcast, he makes an intentional effort to look for ways to be a positive influence for his players. The power of the platform he’s been given is not lost on him.

“I’m not that good,” he said on the podcast. “None of us are. There’s got to be a bigger calling, right? We’re put in these positions for very specific reasons … [so] every day I ask, ‘What does God have in store for me? How does He want to utilize me in this position that I hold in an effort to do good?’”

The people he interacts with see him live out his faith every day. Players may not always realize it, but the values and beliefs he emphasizes are often Biblically based.

The 49-year-old’s ability to connect with players is one of the reasons the Steelers want to make sure he’s sticking around.

“He does a great job of his approach as coach, and as leader of the Steelers, of applying Biblical and Christian truths but doing it in a way that’s not right in your face,” former tight end Vance McDonald told The Undefeated after Tomlin spoke at the 2019 ManUp Conference.

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