Not only did the Pittsburgh Steelers drastically overhaul their inside linebacker position this offseason, but they also added a new coach in Aaron Curry, who arrives from the Seattle Seahawks after serving in several different supporting roles.
And in doing so, he gets a chance to work with one of the people he considers a role model in this profession, long before he was here. Curry told Mike DeFabo of The Athletic that whenever he saw a player play for Tomlin, he would search his mind and try to figure out what he was taught and why.
In a recent article for the outlet, DeFabo was quoted as saying, “Being a black coach in this profession and having minimal opportunities to study someone who looked like me in a leadership role in this profession affected me.” “I watched everything he did from a distance. Press conferences. Interview. game movie
Curry was 20 years old and entering his junior season at Wake Forest when Tomlin was hired in 2007 to replace Bill Cowher as head coach of the Steelers following his retirement. He then became the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft selected by the Seahawks to play linebacker. Although his career has never lived up to his pedigree, it has given him the perspective – even by looking at others – of what success looks like.
Serving in the full-time position coaching role for the Steelers, he has been given an interesting assignment, given the roster rotation a year ago. Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen and Myles Jack are gone, replaced by Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Tanner Muse and Nick Kwiatkowski.
It’s a fresh start and a neat opportunity for Curry to start building his resume as much more than a defensive assistant coach. And he’s grateful to be able to do that not only with Tomlin, but also with Terrell Austin as defensive coordinator. “I can be head coach because I see it that way,” he said. “I can be a defensive coordinator as I see it.”
He added, “I really appreciate the responsibility and the obligation that Coach Tomlin has given me to coach the inside linebackers,” because no one should look back 20 years from now and say We have done a great job.
At the time of his appointment in 2007, Tomlin was named only the 10th full-time African-American head coach in NFL history. He is the longest-serving head coach, consecutive or not, for a franchise in NFL history. He became only the second player after Tony Dungy to win a Super Bowl just a few years later.
He is also a great head coach and leader regardless of race, even though Curry values that element of representation given the opportunity to first study and then work with Tomlin. You no longer need to ask your players how Tomlin is. You will know firsthand in every meeting.