Mike Tomlin is now the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL after the departures of Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll from their respective teams. Following the end of his 17th season with the Steelers, he opened up about one of his biggest regrets.
“It’s probably one of my biggest regrets professionally is that Maurkice Pouncey, for example, is not a world champion because he is,” Tomlin told reporters. “And so, that is a motivating factor for me certainly, but continually it is.”
Pouncey, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, played his entire 11-year career with the Steelers. He quickly established himself as one of the best centers in the NFL, being named to nine Pro Bowls and the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.
Pouncey came close to a championship once before announcing his retirement following the 2020 season. In 2016, Pittsburgh made it the whole way to the AFC Championship Game.
However, Pittsburgh fell to the Patriots 36-17, and it has lost four straight playoff games since, which is the longest drought in franchise history.
Although Pouncey may have deserved to hoist a Vince Lombardi Trophy before he decided to hang up his cleats, he still believes Tomlin made him a champion, just in a different way.
“Never regret it coach, you made me a champion at life. I’m forever grateful,” Pouncey posted on Instagram.
Tomlin can make up for Pouncey’s shortcomings, however, by helping another deserving veteran win a championship in 2024.
DT Cameron Heyward announced he “isn’t retiring” after many speculated he could following the 2023 season.
The soon-to-be 35-year-old has played his entire 13-year NFL career with the Steelers and seems to only be sticking around after an injury-riddled season to win a ring.
“I have a lot of desire for that,” Heyward said. “That’s the thing that bugs me the most at night, not having an opportunity to win a Super Bowl.”
Pittsburgh would need quite an active offseason to build a roster that could compete for a Super Bowl next season. But never say never as general manager Omar Khan proved to be aggressive last offseason.