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Over the last 16 years, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has proven himself as one of the best coaches in the NFL. He has a Super Bowl title and a 63.6 win percentage on his resume. While he’s had plenty of success as an NFL coach, did Tomlin ever play in the NFL?

Mike Tomlin played college football before becoming a coach

Prior to his coaching career, Mike Tomlin had a solid college football career at William & Mary. He was ultimately a three-year starter at receiver there in the 1990s.

According to, Tomlin finished his career with the Tribe with 101 catches for 2,054 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. He even set a school record for yards-per-catch average with 20.2 and earned First-Team All-Yankee Conference honors in 1994.

“I was surprised when Mike told me he wanted to go into coaching,” Tomlin’s former coach, Jimmye Laycock, said, according to USA Today. “He loved football, he was always enthusiastic about everything — he was the kind of guy who’d come to practice and never have a bad day.

“He was always upbeat. But I really didn’t know if he understood what coaching was going to entail so far as hours and lack of pay. … But he convinced me.”

Tomlin never played in the NFL

Tomlin never stepped foot on an NFL field as a player. Tomlin’s college football playing days ended in 1994, and he immediately began his coaching career in 1995 as wide receivers coach at Virginia Military Institute. He then became a graduate assistant at the University of Memphis in 1996.

Tomlin then coached at Arkansas State and the University of Cincinnati before finally cracking into the NFL in 2001. Tomlin coached defensive backs for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2001 through 2005 before becoming the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings in 2006. The Vikings were not a very good team in 2006, but their defense was solid, allowing 20.4 points per game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hired Tomlin as their head coach in 2007. In his 16 NFL seasons with the Steelers, he’s compiled a record of 163-93-2.

As a rookie head coach, Tomlin went 10-6. The following season, he guided the Steelers to a 12-4 record and led them to a Super Bowl title. He’s had nine seasons with 10 or more victories.


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