Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was ready when a reporter on his weekly news conference asked about the possibility that Sunday’s game, against the 1-8 Jaguars, might serve as a “trap game” for the only undefeated team in the NFL.
“You know, I’m not into the trap game discussion,” Tomlin began. “I understand that’s things you guys like to talk about. But this is the NFL. And more than anything, the guys know my attitude regarding that.
“We’re not a Big Ten team playing a MAC opponent this week. Every time we step into a stadium, we’re playing professionals — players and coaches. And we’ve got a ridiculous level of respect for that.
“So write your story, man, follow your storylines about trap games and things of that nature. We understand what we’re going into in Jacksonville, that that’s a group that’s trying to kick our butt, a professional group, a capable group, and we’re preparing with that understanding.”
That’s a heck of a declaration, a whole lot more interesting than: We take it one game at a time.
However, Tomlin neglected one major detail before employing that particular analogy.
His quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, played at Miami University.
His starting wide receiver, Diontae Johnson, played at the University of Toledo.
His starting inside linebacker, Robert Spillane, played at Western Michigan.
Those are all MAC schools. In all, there are six MAC products and four starters on the Steelers roster. (Former Steeler James Harrison, now looking very mean in Fanduel commercials, went to MAC program Akron)
The most prominent among the Steelers’ MAC alums heard every word Tomlin said.
Discussing the Jacksonville game with Pittsburgh reporters Wednesday, according to Will Graves of The Associated Press, Roethlisberger said he would have a response for his coach as soon as he figures out “what conference William & Mary is in.”
Tomlin is W&M, class of 1995.
For the record, the Tribe are in the Colonial Athletic Association. Definitely a step down from the MAC.