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keeponbucn

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: January 24, 2007, 10:28:04 PM

http://www.profootballtalk.com/rumormill.htm


STEELERS SITUATION STILL BIZARRE

We reported on Tuesday night about a strong rumor making the rounds in Mobile, Alabama regarding the manner in which the Steelers' decision to hire Mike Tomlin to be the team's next head coach went down.  As the rumor goes, the Steelers offered the job to Russ Grimm, he accepted the job, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested to Dan Rooney that the team should hire a minority candidate (either Tomlin or Ron Rivera), and Rooney decided to do so.

Though we don't expect anyone who knows the truth on this one to admit it in any setting other than a deathbed confession, the circumstantial evidence supports the notion that the Steelers inexplicably flipped from Grimm to Tomlin.

First of all, Clark Judge of CBSSportsline.com (which maintains the NFL's official web site) cites three unnamed sources in reporting that Grimm was indeed offered the job before it went to Tomlin.  However, Judge's report makes no mention of any arm-twisting by the league office (which might have something to do with the fact that CBSSportsline.com maintains the NFL's official web site).

Second, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Steelers president Art Rooney II candidly has admitted that the team engaged in negotiations with Grimm regarding a contract, a sentiment echoed in Judge's story.  Rooney claims, however, that Grimm was told that the decision to hire him had not yet been made.  "Our intention was the numbers were going to be done before we made the final decision," Rooney said.

Third, the Tribune-Review also reports that Tomlin's agent, Brian Levy, said that no negotiations began between Tomlin and the team until after an offer was extended and accepted on Sunday.

Fourth, Judge reports that the Steelers claim that they did discuss numbers with Tomlin.  "[W]e . . .  discussed numbers with Mike Tomlin's people, too," Rooney said. "And the discussion of numbers was something we wanted to have out of the way before we made a final decision on it."

So why would the Steelers say that they discussed numbers with Grimm and Tomlin while Tomlin's agent claims that numbers weren't discussed with him until an offer was extended to and accepted by Tomlin?

These facts (with all due respect to the Steelers) suggest that no discussions occurred with either candidate regarding numbers until after there was an informal offer and acceptance of the job.  The only other plausible explanation would be that Levy is lying about the way the negotiations unfolded (which he would have no reason to do) -- or that he suffered a significant closed head injury at some time between Saturday and Tuesday.

But what of the Saturday reports that the Steelers had selected Tomlin?  Without knowing who the sources were for those reports, it's impossible to know whether the sources knew the true states of affairs, or whether they took a liberty with the truth in order to help Tomlin get hired.

We're not faulting anyone who reported that Tomlin had been picked by the Steelers.  But unless the source for those reports was Dan Rooney, Art Rooney II, or Kevin Colbert, there's a chance that someone who seemingly was in the know was putting out bad information in order to disrupt the Grimm negotiations long enough to give Goodell a chance to change Dan Rooney's mind.

For example, what if Goodell or someone high up in the league office had called Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated and said, "Don't quote me on this, but the Rooneys have just called to tell us that they are hiring Mike Tomlin."  Silver would have been justified in reporting that Tomlin was the choice.  And though Silver might never have trusted the source in the future if Grimm got the job, it arguably would have been a small price to pay to achieve what was perceived to be the greater goal of getting the Steelers to pick Tomlin.

This is all speculation, and as we've said the truth on this one is unlikely to ever come out.  But the facts that are available suggest strongly to us that there's far more to this story than meets the eye. 

TURBO

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#1 : January 24, 2007, 10:34:14 PM

here we go...


gone

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#2 : January 24, 2007, 10:37:26 PM

Disgusting rumor. 

Besides, there's a big piece missing.  To force a deal like that on an owner, where you make them hire someone they don't want, there needs to be either a big a$$ carrot or a super-sized stick.  Until I hear a rational theory on what those were I put this one down to bile.

OpTiOnMaStA

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#3 : January 24, 2007, 10:38:35 PM

All that speculation could be very logical, but in the end I think they just wanted to hire Tomlin. Why not?

karen anderson

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#4 : January 24, 2007, 10:55:52 PM

This is just silly.  Does anyone here believe that a franchise like the Steelers can be forced to hire someone they don't want? And what would ber the point?

bradentonian

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#5 : January 24, 2007, 10:59:42 PM

It will all be moot after Tomlin wows the league next year and runs away with Coach of the Year honors.


Tampa Bay Todd

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#6 : January 24, 2007, 11:02:34 PM

Hate to say it, but I thought Tomlin's hire was a little mysterious. Not saying he isn't qualified, but I do think he had a distinct advantage in that he was a minority candidate and it was Dan Rooney, after all, that basically came up with the minimum minority interview rule adopted by the league. How would it look if they hired Grimm or Whisenhunt directly when the minority hiring rule is named after the guy. Maybe that's why Whisenhunt went to the Cardinals knowing he had to overcome that.




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#7 : January 24, 2007, 11:05:04 PM

This is just silly. Does anyone here believe that a franchise like the Steelers can be forced to hire someone they don't want? And what would ber the point?
Yes.

karen anderson

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#8 : January 24, 2007, 11:07:02 PM

How, RJ, & why?

leeroybuc93

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#9 : January 24, 2007, 11:10:51 PM

Stupid!

The Steelers would sue the F!@k out of the NFL if they "made" them hire a black coach.  The NFL wouldn't have the balls to force an owner into hiring a head coach or anyone else for that matter.  If this rumor were true, and the owners would know if it was, many of the other owners would start a fire sale to rid themselves of their controlled business.  Common sense says not hiring a black coach would cost the NFL a lot less than it would if it came out that they forced a team to hire one.

Bottom line, the Steelers wanted Tomlin.  Or at the very least, the Steelers wanted Tomlin at his asking price more than they wanted Grimm at his.



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#10 : January 24, 2007, 11:19:27 PM

PFT did a nice job explaining it.

karen anderson

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#11 : January 24, 2007, 11:38:48 PM

PFT is PFT. And I don't think they explained how or why.



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#12 : January 25, 2007, 12:14:22 AM

I heard on the radio today that the Rooney's got a phone call from Dungy on Saturday urging them to hire Tomlin. I'd hate for these types of rumors to taint Tomlin's accomplishment.

BUCFAN4LIFE

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#13 : January 25, 2007, 12:21:05 AM

Like sands through the hour glass.... here come the Days of Our... errr.. the NFL rumor mill. Always has to be some sort of conspiracy. Cpngrats Tomlin-- we know you'll succeed. Good hire by Rooney.


JavaBuc

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#14 : January 25, 2007, 12:43:04 AM

A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat.    I doubt it was a "forced" hire, but I'm sure the NFL is thrilled at the hiring of another black head coach.       
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