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Steelers' Tomlin calls Bradshaw's words 'unprofessional'

| Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, 1:12 p.m.

Four days after Terry Bradshaw took a shot at Mike Tomlin, the Steelers coach fired back at the Steelers Hall of Famer.

After graciously accepting “critiques and criticisms” by fans and analysts (Bradshaw works for Fox) are part of his job, Tomlin said being called “a cheerleader guy” — as Bradshaw did on FS1 Friday — “probably falls more into the area of disrespect and unprofessional.”

Then Tomlin added, “But what do I know? I grew up a Dallas fan. Particularly a Hollywood Henderson fan.”

In the lead-up to Super Bowl XIII between the Cowboys and Steelers in January 1979, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson told reporters of Bradshaw, “He is so dumb, he couldn't spell cat if you spotted him a C and an A.”

At 102-57, Tomlin has the third-highest winning percentage among active coaches at .642. He was tied for the fourth-fastest coach to 60 wins and has guided the Steelers to the playoffs in seven of his first 10 seasons — winning the AFC North five times and going to two Super Bowls (winning the one at the end of his second season in 2008).

On Friday's episode of “Speak For Yourself” on FS1, Bradshaw said of Tomlin: “I don't think he's a great coach at all. He's a nice coach. To me, I've said this, he's really a great cheerleader guy. I don't know what he does. I don't think he is a great coach at all. His name never even pops in my mind when we think about great coaches in the NFL.”

After Sunday's win against Baltimore that clinched the division title, several players defended Tomlin. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons, for example, called Tomlin “the premier NFL coach,” and guard David DeCastro said “we weren't very happy about” Bradshaw's comments.

“I appreciate the support, but criticism and critique are very much a part of our business and an element of our business that as a competitor I embrace,” Tomlin said. “The term ‘great' is something I have a great deal of respect for. I certainly don't think at this point that my resume at this point reads as ‘great' — but very few coaches have a resume that reads as ‘great' at this point. Guys like Bill (Belichick) in New England probably can say that or ‘Pop' (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich of the NBA) down in San Antonio, but I think the rest of us are just workin' stiffs, to be quite honest with you.

“Now that being said, terms like, ‘cheerleader guy,' to me, maybe fall outside the bounds of critique or criticism. They probably fall more into the area of disrespect and unprofessional.”

Speaking on his weekly KDKA-FM radio show Tuesday morning, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he laughed when he heard of Bradshaw's views of Tomlin. Bradshaw in the past hasn't had the warmest public view of Roethlisberger, who has broken most of Bradshaw's team passing records.

“I've been doing this long enough that I've heard people say things about me, about coaches, about players, and you just have to move on,” Roethlisberger said. “It is really tough when I get asked about it because I do respect Terry, obviously, for what he's done on the football field — four Super Bowls — I have always said he is one of the best because of that. But sometimes some of the things that come out of his mouth, you don't always have to agree with.

“We're going to stand up … for our coach.”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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