I think I have my NFL equivalent of Terry Francona - a favorite manager/head coach who I just can't root against, because I think they go about things the right way - and it again comes from an unlikely source.
I can't root for the Steelers - they give the Jets fits, knocked them out of the playoffs in 2004 - but I also can't root against them. I really like Mike Tomlin, and when I compile my list of NFL "Players I Like" (which I'm working on), he's the head coach.
First of all, I caught an episode of "Wired Up" on the NFL Network (I think that's what the show was called), and he was mini-featured. Nothing really personal or earth-shattering, just some sound of how he interacts with players. He seems real. Down-to-earth. Makes players want to go out and win for him. And most of all he seems genuine.
I've been bitten by that 'genuine' thing before - I thought Herman Edwards was genuine before he turned into a lying back-stabber. But this seems different.
He has an energy - he's young, and can closely relate to his players. So all that makes him someone you want your players playing for - because they want to play for him. But the reason I like him goes beyond that.
You watch any NFL game on any given week, and you see coaches who are constantly scowling and complaining. It doesn't look like anyone is having any fun.
Mike Tomlin seems different. He's not out there having a grand old time, but he also doesn't look like he's having the worst time of his life, like the other guys.
There's no constant complaining to the refs. There's a face, maybe, and he punches the air - kind of like I think I would do. But then it's back to business. He jumps around and looks excited when good things happen.
And most of all - he smiles a lot. Not just at the end of the game when the win is in hand. During the game. That's a big thing to me.
It's not like I see Mike Tomlin every week, so maybe my observations are way off base. And it just so happens that the day this is posted, the Steelers are playing the Patriots. That's not why I'm writing this - in fact, I think it's again better for the Jets if the Patriots win this week.
Mike Tomlin just seems like a good guy who is easy to root for. Even if he's hard to root for.