Mike Tomlin OK as 'players' coach'

PITTSBURGH -- Two days after bristling at being called a players' coach during a pregame interview with Fox Sports, the Steelers' Mike Tomlin said he is "not insulted by that term in any way."

Tomlin, however, said Tuesday at his weekly news conference that he takes exception to the context that is frequently attached to the term and suggested that there are racial and age undertones to it. He told Fox on Sunday that longtime Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't referred to as a players' coach because he is "an old white guy."

Tomlin, who is in his eighth season with the Steelers, said he doesn't mind the term but that he doesn't want it to define him, either.

"I refuse to be put in a box. It's my job to be what my team needs me to be," said Tomlin, who was 34 when the Steelers hired him as their head coach in 2007. "Sometimes it's close and cuddly, and sometimes it's not. I don't have any problem being any of the above.

"Sometimes when they couple 'players' coach' with questions about how I wear my hair or what I choose to wear on the sidelines or what type of music I listen to, then it gets kind of old and falls into that category for me.

"I'd like to think the manner in which I do my job, whether it's positive or negative, has very little to do with my haircut or the clothes that I wear or the type of music I listen to, and that's when I get annoyed with that line of questioning."

The Steelers fell to 2-2 after Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They visit winless Jacksonville in Week 5.