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Mike Tomlin Delivered A Football-Saving Message, I Hope Roger Goodell And Troy Vincent Saw It

Friday night in Pittsburgh, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin might have provided the NFL a blueprint for de-escalating the growing disconnect between its Black Lives Matter-obsessed players and traditional sports fans.

With his players standing behind him locked arm-in-arm, flanked by his team owner and general manager, Tomlin stood at midfield and publicly addressed the social unrest that briefly halted the sports world. 

“This evening, as we go about our normal football business,” Tomlin began, “we come before you standing united as an organization, as a football team, as football men, from different ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds and even countries of origin. We stand united by our talents and our love for the game of football.”

Tomlin then spoke of the difficult lessons and challenges presented in the year 2020. He said the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest helped to contextualize the insignificance of football. 

“But we also realize that we’re privileged to have a platform,” he said. “We’re committed to taking action and being a part of the solution to face social injustice and prejudice that we all face, not only in our country, but worldwide. It is our desire to be active participants in the formation of a more perfect union.

“That being said, we realize recent events are the continued reminder how far we are from that.”

Tomlin wrapped up his speech by asking his players to join him in prayer “for betterment.” Players and other members of the organization dropped to their knees, bowed their heads and prayed with their head coach. 

It was a beautiful moment. Watch the entire moment on the tweet below. 

I hope NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sees the video. I hope Goodell’s assistant Troy Vincent sees the video. It’s an example of the kind of leadership that should be coming out of the league office. 

Was Tomlin’s speech perfect? No. It lends too much credibility to the social media-driven performative shock and outrage that occurs in the rare occurrences when a white police officer kills a black criminal suspect. It lends credibility to LeBron James’ bogus assertion that black people live in daily fear of police. 

Did the black woman who called the police to remove Jacob Blake from her home fear the police? Did Jacob Blake exhibit any fear of police?

But I’m nitpicking Tomlin’s speech. It was a step in the right direction. Rather than damning and vilifying the nation that virtually no black person wants to leave and many black people desperately try to enter, Tomlin called on his players to pray that our nation improves. 

That’s a message and an action that many Americans can and will support. 

The athletes and their media sycophants have injected divisive partisan politics into sports. Tomlin injected God, faith and prayer into sports. I love Tomlin’s approach. 

It is a clever rebuke of the BLM movement, aka, Bigots Love Marxism. BLM is a secular (anti-religion) movement. Its founders admit being trained Marxist. Marxism rejects all religions. 

This modern-day “civil rights movement” promotes anger and outrage, the tools of evil. 

Watch this video of a BLM leader in Portland celebrating the murder of a Trump supporter and stating that “if y’all are not angry, you’re not with me.”

BLM is the antithesis of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights Movement, which was founded in Christian love. 

Mike Tomlin’s call for prayer is the perfect rebuttal to BLM. It would be awesome if Roger Goodell or Troy Vincent could formulate a speech similar to Tomlin’s and then call for prayer before the start of NFL games. 

Instead, we’re 10 days from the Chiefs and the Texans opening the season and the NFL plans to make their stadiums BLM shrines the same as the NBA Bubble.  NFL players will kneel during the national anthem and wear the names of alleged victims of police misconduct on the back of their helmets.

According to the black woman who called Kenosha police, Jacob Blake regularly sexually assaulted her and terrorized her. NFL players are going to put Blake’s name on the back of their helmets? 

In 2012, I lost a cousin, Anton Butler, to what we believe was police misconduct. I loved Anton. I helped raise Anton. I look at his picture every day. He entered the world with as much promise as any human being I’ve ever known. I’m haunted by his death and some of the choices he made in his life. He was a good person. 

I don’t believe his name should be honored on the back of NFL helmets. Being a victim is not an accomplishment. It’s a tragedy. Furthermore, we need to acknowledge that not all victims are innocent. Some people repeatedly place themselves in harm’s way. 

I digress. 

I love football. I love the opportunities the game has created for black men. I’m worried that a lack of leadership from Goodell and Vincent is going to lead to the kind of self-destructive behavior we see in the NBA.

Tomlin’s leadership could point the NFL the right direction. There’s a way for NFL players to convey their social justice message without vilifying America and the traditional sports fans who are protective of national pride.

A smart speech, a short prayer and everyone standing for the national anthem could satisfy everyone. Mike Tomlin showed us the way forward.

If you want Jason Whitlock for your TV or radio show or podcast, contact gary@outkick.com.

Written by Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is a longtime sports writer, TV personality, radio host, podcaster and the newest member of the Outkick family.
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53 Comments

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  1. GOLD – PURE Gold:

    “ …But I’m nitpicking Tomlin’s speech. It was a step in the right direction. Rather than damning and vilifying the nation that virtually no black person wants to leave and many black people desperately try to enter, Tomlin called on his players to pray that our nation improves. ” -JW

  2. I’m guessing ESPN didn’t really cover this one. And if what Jason says is true about what NFL stadiums and players will be looking like, I might just say adios to my Giants. I already heard about Saquon Barkley threatening to poison his brand with some bs about a boycott or something. If Tom Brady seems to embrace this crap I’ll know it’s all too far gone. Sorry, Jason and Tomlin.

    Look, if the players of a sports league are boycotting their own sport, why should I not permanently do so myself?

  3. With all the Corona BS, the only measure of impact from the SJW wokeness will be TV ratings. I’m sure Outkick will be all over it, but let’s see what the rest of the media do to spin whatever the ratings are.

  4. JLW: “Tomlin’s leadership could point the NFL the right direction. There’s a way for NFL players to convey their social justice message…A smart speech, a short prayer and everyone standing for the national anthem could satisfy everyone. Mike Tomlin showed us the way forward.”

    Hey Jason,
    Terrific commentary on Mike Tomlin, his heartfelt words…and his trying to impart some wisdom.
    And I’d like to just say something related to your comment: “without vilifying America and the traditional sports fans who are protective of national pride.”

    You’ve rightly pointed out many times that Black Americans are not monolithic in thought. But it seems like White Americans are being painted as a racist monolith by a lot of the Black community, and especially BLM. We shouldn’t be expected “to prove we’re not racists”…we reject having to prove that, and the premise that we need to tear down and rebuild. That is what’s being taught by marxists and communists, and being believed by far too many.

    My parents came from Ireland with an 8th and a 6th grade education. My dad came from a farm, like most, and borrowed $1,000 for a down payment on a small house in the Bronx. He told me the first thing he did was buy a large flag pole and cement it into the grass in the corner of the yard. That’s how lucky he felt to be here. I’m damn lucky that I was born and raised here, and am raising a family here to understand the greatness of America. Not “perfection”…no country on Earth will ever be remotely close to perfect…but we’re moving in the right direction.

    And as you’ve pointed out many times, pro sports athletes (and even pro sports media figures black and white) have achieved generational wealth because of the opportunity this country and this system of free market capitalism has afforded them.

    Mike Tomlin’s words and actions will go a long way toward a much needed reality check, and as you say, let’s hope Goddell and Vincent have ears to hear what he’s saying. If they want to continue to tear down the NFL, we’ll we won’t be around to help them rebuild it.

  5. Tomlin is a William and Mary guy, or as Lou Holtz would call them “Bill and Mary”. Great to see Coach Tomlin using his education and being a leader.

    Rick – My family were also immigrants and my Dad grew up in the Bronx. My Dad was able to propel himself from the child of immigrants to a successful attorney and he’s provided all of his kids with a great start in life. Whoever said America is a Caste system needs to due some fact checking. I think the problem is that we have such incredibly comfortable lives that far too many people take it for granted. They should spend some time in countries like Ghana, which has great people but heart breaking poverty.

    • Yeah, the argument that America is a caste system is so bogus. If anything, left-wing folks want to create a caste system based on skin color. You are born into it, and you cannot leave it because who you are are is defined already by your birth. Why try? As Clay would, this is a bunch of losers.

    • Totally agree. My Father had escape communist Cuba and came to the USA without any money and not knowing the language. He became a doctor with a successful private practice. I learned my love of country from him. I always say if these athletes would spend time in a 3rd world country they would come back to the USA with a renewed appreciation (as I always did). Education is the key

      • Exactly! I came from the Soviet Union as a kid with my parents. We had no money. It took many years, but through hard work and saving, everyone is comfortable and living well. We love this country. Many people who are born here are spoiled and don’t realize how good they have it. If they actually lived in Cuba, USSR, Africa, or Venezuela, they’d know how lucky they are to be in the US. Having written that, I’ve traveled a lot throughout Europe and I do believe that America is in trouble. Too many people are liberal minded, overweight, unhealthy, and rude. You just don’t see much of that in Western Europe.

        • Well said, and by the way my Immigrant Grandmother came to the US from Russia, via France and England, and was raised in a children’s home in NYC. Eventually marrying a Scottish Immigrant and settling in the Bronx. My Great Granddad was murdered by the Bolsheviks during the uprising. Nice folks those communist, murder anyone who disagrees with them or threatens them politically. Universal brotherhood they call it.

  6. Nope, he still lended credence to the outright BS and lies this whole “movement” is about. Nothing “saving” about this. My friends from high school and I officially cancelled our fantasy football league this year yesterday and I couldn’t be more thrilled to move on to an nfl-less future.

  7. Jason, great column! Hopefully the NFL can build on Tomlin’s message. If more of our leaders (both Democrats and Republicans) deliver messages like Tomlin’s, then we as a country can make progress. Leaders like Tomlin (as opposed to BLM leaders) will help black lives.

  8. It sucks not watching these sports anymore. But I feel that out of principle, I just can’t do it. Honestly, I dont know what Tomlin is talking about. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would buy into these fake, cops are racist incidents and America is systemically racist. But I would have never guessed Doc Rivers would say what he said.
    But nothing hurts more than not being able to watch my beloved WNBA. All I can think about lately are all the reverse layups and shotput jumpers from 20 feet that I’m missing. But a guy has to take a stand at some point. I can tell you though, cancelling my WNBA season pass was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. That’s what you call real sacrifice.

  9. If BLM wants to harrass, hurt and kill White people, then be prepared for whatever comes back at them. If they feel like playing a game, White people are far more prepared to not only defend themselves, but would win swiftly. So, BLM, are you feeling lucky? Wanna play a real life Hunger Games?

  10. I respectfully disagree. Politics needs to stay out of live sports broadcasts. Mike Tomlin’s message may be more palatable than others’, but I don’t want to hear any of it when I tune into an NFL game. I could tune to countless channels to hear that kind of message. Players can use their celebrity to affect social change on their own personal time, not during an official broadcast. This is a slippery slope. By allowing this type of messaging you are telling players they can and should express their political beliefs during live broadcasts. NFL needs a zero tolerance policy on political statements.

  11. Tomlin’s speech is flawed, but the team being unified in prayer is a positive. From what I’ve heard about the NFL’s social justice plans it doesn’t sound good. It makes too much sense to kneel for payer and then stand for the National Anthem (meaning that will probably not occur). On July 7, 2016 five Dallas police officers were shot and killed. Nine other officers were injured along with two civilians. The shooter was reported to be angry over police shootings of black men. When the Cowboys asked if they could wear decals on their helmets to honor the murdered officers the NFL said no. I understand the NFL is going to allow decals on helmets with names including Jacob Blake. If the NFL models the NBA and goes woke…I’m out.

    • I live in Dallas and you called it, Steve. I would say that I don’t understand why the NFL would not let these valiant Dallas police officers be honored with a decal by the local team while Jacob Blake’s named will be plastered on helmets all over the NFL … but I do understand why and we all do. Pathetic.

  12. Jason, I agree that Mike Tomlin showed us a way forward. He’s not in the NBA’s “echo chamber”, but I have no doubt that he’s surrounded by pressures to cave to BLM. But he didn’t cave. He thought for himself. I give Tomlin a lot of credit for using his intellect, and for coming up with a way to open dialogue a little as opposed inciting more anger (like the NBA)…….Like you said, his speech wasn’t perfect, but hopefully the NFL can build on it.

  13. I am going against your advice and have stayed away from pro sports. I’m not a basketball fan and basically only like baseball highlight until the end of the season. Football is another matter, I would watch as many preseason games as possible and NFL Network Training Camp shows. I’m just out for now. Sports are now a vehicle to destroy our country. Tomlin was largely good but I can’t stand the manufactured crisis that we now live in. Real leadership requires the leader to speak truth regardless of the consequences; we don’t have too many of them right now. Tomlin came the closest but didn’t get there.

  14. You just keep hitting one home run article after another Great article, I hope the NFL leadership and players are listening .. but unfortunately I doubt it. They are more likely to as you say, get woke go broke and it makes me sad

  15. Tomlin is my coach as a Steelers fan, so in this instant I support his message. Most of these guys are one wrong comment away from being fired, which should send shivers down any American’s spine, so it this is the message I would rather have that then some woke, the police are evil BS. The NFL can really muck this up! Man I hope they don’t. But lately I have decided not to give fools my time. So Clay and Jason…you’re not fools. I put my money in things I believe in! And I believe your company is doing more to stand up for the American way and righteousness than the government that taxes the hell out of me….Keep it up boys! Aim small, miss small!

    • Well said and likewise. I realized today that this web site is the only non work related web time I spend, and I also realized this is the only site I’ve ever been on that has not devolved into a wasteland of trolls arguing with other trolls.

  16. Well stated, Mr. Whitlock. No, this was not perfect, but it was less terrible. I’ll settle for less terrible instead of offensively terrible. We still have too many in the main stream echo chamber repeating aloud unsubstantiated opinions like “we are still a long way from where we need to be,” about the state of racial relations in America today.

    This is my final caution to the NFL, things will spiral for the league in 2020 if opening week turns into a BLM fest with kneeling on top. I beg you, please don’t do that. It will be the final straw that breaks the camels’ back for many. Please come to your senses and stand during the anthem. Please stop the disrespect and partisan divisiveness during our anthem. It’s offensive to so many. The fans will leave you this time. This is not a drill. Stop doing this to the fans now, before they are former fans.

    • Well said Sir, the NFL is treading on very dangerous ground, America is a pressure cooker right now. The NFL needs to remember that only a portion of their fans are on twitter, the silent majority is watching and will not suffer the foolishness of the NBA. You CAN find a way to encourage positive change in this country without demonizing the police and disrespecting our veterans.

  17. Tomlin and the Pittsburgh organization went the right direction with prayer but missed on the message. As for the NFL… i was hoping they would avoid all the BLM pandering but looks like that’s not going to happen. I am out! This will not be the first time i stopped watching the league but it will probably be the last. Get Woke – Go Broke

  18. I’m not quite sure what to think about Mike Tomlin’s “worldwide social injustice” comment. Can we just focus on handling America’s problems, right now? Make America the example and the beacon of hope for the world. The other countries will follow suit.

  19. God is the answer, Love is the answer. At least Tomlin is saying it’s a world problem instead isolating it to only an American problem. America is God’s Land and have faith in God (But do what you can like voting) that He will protect our beautiful Land.

    I guess Tomlin didn’t get the message that social justice warriors are anti-religion and so his speech will not be received well by those on left. However he is right God is the answer

  20. “What, me worry”? Goodell and the NFL owners.
    The NFLPLA contract comes up for renewal next year before the 2021 season and if the ratings are down for this season due to wokeness then ad income money for next season could very well be lowered due to the lower ratings which would be a bargaining point for the owners.

  21. If the NFL goes full woke I’m out. That means I don’t need ESPN or the NFL Network. Unfortunately I won’t need Outkick as there won’t be any sports aside from one college football team to watch. They’re hanging by a thread at this point. Is the 21st century the death of sports in America? Does football become horse racing or a day at the dog track? People counting on money from these sports better realize it can happen.

  22. Awesome article Jason. I believe I say that everyday. Did Mike Tomlin read your article “BLM 101: Together, We Can Educate Pro Athletes About Black Lives Matter”? It’s a slow process. What a great way for a coach to educate players than with a prayer! Education is the key! Going forward will common sense prevail?

  23. One comment mentioned immigrating from Cuba and another the fact that on the BLM site and in a video this “movement” is indeed Marxist and socialist. Let me combine the two … our next-door neighbor couple both moved here from Cuba. I do not know any two people who work harder than this couple. They have added thousands to the value of our house just by the improvements they have made to theirs. I respect their desire to work hard. They have Old Glory on a pole in their yard. But what most caught my eye was a recent sticker the young man put on his car’s back window. It was a line drawn through the word SOCIALISM. If a guy from Cuba is doing this and has lived, I take his word. Yeah, our country isn’t perfect, but it is still the best thing going on planet earth.

  24. I am old enough to remember the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl win. I stood up an cheered at our black and white TV as Otis Taylor caught a pass from Len Dawson to clinch it. That is a better memory for me than this years’ rise to the top given the fact that, now I must celebrate your achievement with a unpalatable dose of ignorance. I am too old to be given guidance from athletes. Live a bit longer before you preach to me.

  25. Hope springs eternal, as the saying goes. And I hope you have some impact, at some level.
    But for me, after almost 45 years as a Denver Bronco fan, and can count on one hand the games I’ve missed, I’ve lost interest.
    A big part of sports and ‘your’ team is that you see them as your guys or gals. Same spirit, same end goals. Yep, your a teammate in a very real sense.
    Olympics are a prime example.
    And when they make it crystal clear they don’t give one damn about or for you, and in fact, actually despise you and yours, why stick around?
    There is no reason, and better things to do. Things that may actually make me feel good about life, and much needed in this world today.

  26. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of ways these jackasses could actually help the world, especially the world of those they claim to care most about.
    But they don’t, and most won’t.
    They are busy spreading the salve of social, racial, you name it, ‘justice’ on the open wound, the wound that refuses to heal. All the while, year after year, decade after decade, ignoring the cause of the wound in the first place.
    Culture is everything in every society. And the cultures, regardless of where they are or come from, or what they look like, that embrace light over dark, honor, to yourself and others, love and commitment, integrity and family, will always prevail.

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