Suffice to say both franchises are pleased with the results to date.
"It's really unique in a sense that he's younger and he's more hip, more GQ than you would see any other coach," Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said of Tomlin. "In that, he's more compassionate, more sympathetic to what we experience as players: One, being the youth, and two, being a similar cultural background as a lot of the players as well."
Jay-Z on his iPod qualified Tomlin to coach. But it didn't hurt.
Rooney recognized the cultural component, not to mention sheer fairness, when advocating for the minority interview mandate.
"The idea was to give an opportunity to African-Americans or other minorities to meet with owners and be interviewed and see what they could do," he said. "It's really worked."
Since the end of the regular season, three teams have hired African-American head coaches: Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris, Indianapolis' Jim Caldwell and San Francisco's Mike Singletary.
Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell credits the Rooney Rule. Mitchell is black and has coached in the NFL for 18 years, the past 15 in Pittsburgh.
"Had that not occurred, a lot of guys in the league would not have had the opportunity," he said. "All you want as an assistant coach is the opportunity to get your foot in the door, sit down and talk to people. If you don't impress them, then you have some work to do."
The NFL also supports minority internships for coaches, and again, Tomlin benefited. While an assistant at the University of Cincinnati in 2000, he interned during training camp with the Cleveland Browns.
"That was a great avenue to expose the National Football League to me," Tomlin said. "Really, prior to that, I had no intentions whatsoever of coaching in the NFL. I left that internship committed to coaching in the NFL because it was such a positive experience."
Internships and the Rooney Rule, Tomlin added, have "given opportunity to deserving individuals, and I think people lose that perspective. It's about deserving individuals. I think the actions of the men once given the opportunity have proven that.
"I wear it like a badge of honor. … I hope that what I do on a day-to-day basis provides an opportunity for the next deserving man. That's what this business is about. That's what our country is about."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime.
Glory on a paved road