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Tomlin Talks Mendenhall, Ward & More In Exclusive Interview

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA)–The NFL season is still up in the air, but that hasn’t stopped Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin from preparing. Only on KDKA, Tomlin sat down with Bob Pompeani for an exclusive interview.

The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association are in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement before the 2011 season, but Pompeani caught up with Tomlin to talk about football and Steelers-related issues. Pompeani talked with the Steelers head coach about Twitter, Hines Ward and a potential conspiracy theory that the NFL is targeting the Steelers in its crackdown of illegal hits.

Just a few weeks ago at the NFL owners meetings, the NFL continued its crackdown of hard hits and blows to the head.

“At times, I’ve struggled to figure out why we are at the forefront of this discussion, to be honest with you,” said Tomlin about the illegal hits. “We play football just like everyone else. We’re trying to win on weekends. We’re going to try to play within the rules when there are rule changes. We adjust like everyone else.”

Pompeani also spoke to Tomlin about Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall’s controversial Twitter comments about the death of Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“He shouldn’t have said it,” Tomlin said about Mendenhall’s Twitter comments. “Yes, it is a freedom of speech issue. Yes, he is a young man, and he has a right to his opinion. But sometimes these young men got to understand the positions that they hold and the influence that they have and to be highly sensitive to that.

“I think that, more than anything, in those chain of events, he was not sensitive to the power of his words or his positions on that subject or on any subject. I think life is an education. I think these young men or continually educated to what comes along with being them, and that’s just an example of it.

“Here’s the thing that I think a lot of people miss, is that that kid was 12 years old on 9/11. He doesn’t have an idea of what pre-9/11 adult life was like in America. He doesn’t understand the ramifications of how life changed in America on that day [be]cause he was a kid.”

Hines Ward is no kid, but he showed the energy of one by winning “Dancing With The Stars.” He got some original ribbing from his teammates, but Pompeani asked Tomlin if he was surprised Ward won the whole thing.

“I thought that he would,” Tomlin said, despite never seeing his wide receiver dance prior to the competition. “I know competitors. I know how that guy’s wired. I knew that he would do everything in his power to prepare himself and perform. I knew the stage wouldn’t be too big for him. I thought all of those things kind of weighed in his favor.”

Tomlin said he would have been surprised if Ward didn’t win.

Pompeani asked Tomlin if he would ever dance on the show.

Tomlin’s answer: “Absolutely not. For the same reasons I don’t golf,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t have 13 weeks to devote to that. Maybe again at some point in life, but not anytime in the near future. I’m enjoying too much of what I’m doing right now.”

Tomlin said he would “represent himself decently” if he did go on “Dancing With The Stars.”

“I’m not professing that I would win,” Tomlin added.

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