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Ron Cook: Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick couldn't be more different, but they share winning pedigrees

Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Football

PITTSBURGH — Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport, his six Super Bowl titles the proof. He has won a combined 321 NFL games in the regular season and postseason. He needs just 27 wins to pass Don Shula as the winningest coach in NFL history.

Mike Tomlin is regarded as one of the top coaches in today's NFL, at least outside of Pittsburgh. His 154 regular-season wins since taking over the Steelers in 2007 are more than any coach but Belichick during that time. He is well on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Two highly successful coaches.

Two completely different coaching styles.

Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger told an amazing story about Belichick last week. He said he woke up late one morning and realized he was going to be late for a team meeting. He said he was so petrified about having to face Belichick that he intentionally caused an automobile accident on his way to the Patriots facility so he would have an excuse for being tardy.

"You don't want to be the guy that's wandering into a squad team meeting and have Bill Belichick and the rest of the team look at you," Ohrnberger said on The Hartman and Rich O Show on XTRA 1360 in San Diego. "I have this sinking feeling in my stomach like I'm gonna get cut. He's not going to have me on this football team come tomorrow. What do I do?

 

"I see a church van in front of me that's all dinged up. I'm like, 'I'm gonna hit this car. I'm gonna rear-end this car. I'm gonna hit this car because it's better to pay the insurance or peel off this guy a couple hundred bucks than embarrass myself for being late to this Patriots team meeting.' "

I'm guessing a lot of New England players can relate to Ohrnberger's anxiety. Many players, after leaving the Patriots, have said playing for Belichick was no fun, that they hated it because of his rigid, no-nonsense approach. I can't help but wonder if those same players thought it was fun when they put a Super Bowl ring on their finger.

Contrast Belichick's methods with Tomlin's.

Ben Roethlisberger spoke last month about a "me-first" attitude among some of the Steelers during the past several seasons. He didn't mention Antonio Brown by name, but it seemed clear that's who he was referencing. Brown showed up late for team meetings on multiple occasions. He was allowed to stay at a private residence during training camp instead of a dormitory with the rest of the team. He was paid for the final game in 2018 despite walking out on the squad the week before.

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