Mike Tomlin may not be much of a coach, at least to hear Terry Bradshaw tell it, but he has a career in comedy writing.
The Steelers coach met with the media on Tuesday, two days after beating the Ravens, 31-27, and securing the AFC North in the process, and he was finally asked about Bradshaw's recent comments. The short version goes something like this: "Great cheerleader, not a great coach."
So what was Tomlin's response?
"I appreciate the support, but criticism and critique are very much a part of our business and it's an element of our business that, as a competitor, I embrace," he said, via the Beaver County Times' Chris Bradford. "The term 'great' is something that I have a great deal of respect for. I certainly don't think that my resume to this point reads as great but very few coaches' resumes read that at this point.
"Guys like Bill (Belichick) in New England can probably say that, or (Greg Popovich) down in San Antonio, but I think the rest of us are just working stiffs, to be quite honest with you.
"Now that being said, terms like 'cheerleader guy,' to me, maybe fall outside the bounds of critique or criticism. They fall probably more into the area of disrespect and unprofessional. But what do I know? I grew up a Dallas fan, particularly a Hollywood Henderson fan."
That was as thorough a burn as you'll see.
For those not old enough to get the reference, Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson played for the Cowboys from 1975-1979, and famously joked Before Super Bowl XIII against the Steelers that Bradshaw "couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the c and the a."
Bradshaw would finish 17 of 30 for 318 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception, and was named Super Bowl MVP in the Steelers' 35-31 win.
But in the first half, with the Steelers leading 14-0, Henderson sacked Bradshaw as linebacker Mike Hegman stripped the quarterback and returned it for a touchdown.
On Friday, here's what Bradshaw said during an appearance on FS1.
"I don't think he's a great coach at all. He's a nice coach. He's really a great cheerleader guy. I don't know what he does, but I don't think he's a great coach at all. His name never even pops in my mind when we think about great coaches in the NFL."
The facts don't align with Bradshaw's opinion, and even less so now in the wake of the Steelers' latest victory that pushed Tomlin's career record to 102-57. Afterwards, Tomlin's players were asked about their coach.
"No offense to Terry," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, via Steel City Insider's Jim Wexell. "I think he is one of the greatest of all time. I consider him Steeler family. But this is the real family, the tight-knit family that we have in here in this locker room. And when people talk, it's dust in the wind, if you will.
"I laughed at it because, well, it was what it was. But we can't dwell on it. Some people may have taken it to heart and said, 'Hey we're going to play for him because of what was said.' I think I've been in this long enough and heard enough stuff that for me it wasn't as big of a deal."
Running back Le'Veon Bell added: "I didn't see it, but I heard about it. So for me it wasn't a rallying cry. My mindset was to go out here and get the win regardless. I didn't care what people were saying, but for him, for Coach T, obviously we want to win for that man. I love him to death. To me, he's a great coach. He puts us in the right situations. He's real savvy. He thinks a lot like me, and obviously I'm excited about the win."
Meanwhile, Big Ben and Bradshaw have had issues too. CBSSports.com's John Breech documented this in great detail two years ago.
"Our relationship is not any good," Bradshaw said, describing the situation in 2010. "When I told him to park the motorcycle, he got pissed. Alright? Then he had the accident. And since then, there's, you know ... he doesn't like me, and I'm learning not to like him."
In 2012, Roethlisberger said that the two still weren't talking, adding: "I've never had an issue [with him]. He said a bunch of things in the past about me; it hurts a little bit when you think about family, but I've never been one to say anything to him or at him."
By 2014, Big Ben was asked if the thought Bradshaw would want him to get four Super Bowl rings."I'm sure he wouldn't want me to get four championships," Roethlisberger told Jim Rome, "but if he's a true Steeler at heart then he would want this organization to win as many championships as possible."
But there is good news: While Bradshaw remains unimpressed with Tomlin, he's apparently come around on Roethlisberger. Here's what he told Steelers.com in September: "I would rate Ben right on top of the list [of the best NFL quarterbacks], ahead of [Tom] Brady for sure and anybody else, [Philip] Rivers, Eli [Manning]. He is big, strong and poised."