When a Hall of Famer with four Super Bowl rings talks, people listen.
They were listening loud and clear last week.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler great and current FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw created a bit of a stir with comments he made about Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin.
Bradshaw didn't take a diplomatic stance. He held nothing back in insinuating that Tomlin wasn't much of a coach.
Bradshaw said, "I don't think he's a great coach at all. He's a nice coach. To me, I've said this, he's really a great cheerleader guy. I don't know what he does. I don't think he is a great coach at all. His name never even pops in my mind when we think about great coaches in the NFL."
As you can predict, those comments had a polarizing effect during the week. Some agreed with Bradshaw, but most thought he went overboard.
That was Tomlin's thinking. He said that Bradshaw "went too far."
Though, he did land a great subtle jab at Bradshaw by saying, "What do I know? I grew up a Dallas fan, in particular, a Hollywood Henderson fan."
This is a reference to when former Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson famously said that Bradshaw was "so dumb, he couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him a C and an A."
Touché, Coach Tomlin.
I look at Bradshaw's statement having a little truth to it, but I am with the contingent that thinks he took it too far.
He was too harsh to a man that has again and again proven his mettle in the league. Saying Tomlin is "not a great coach at all" is absolutely ridiculous.
The part of Bradshaw's statement that I do somewhat agree with is his insinuation that Tomlin is not an elite coach.
I like Tomlin. I think he's a tough guy that demands the respect of his players, and I love his old school mentality.
He has a career record of 101-57. He has won five division titles, two AFC championships, has made two Super Bowl appearances and he has won one Lombardi Trophy.
The Steelers have never had a losing season on Tomlin's watch.
I think he's very good, and if my team needed a coach, I'd take him in a second.
With that said, I don't know if I would call him elite. But to be fair to Tomlin, I don't see a lot of elite coaches in the league right now.
The only guy I can point to and declare them elite without taking a moment to deliberate is that guy in New England with the four Super Bowls, Bill Belichick.
Belichick is in a league of his own. It's him and everybody else.
And when it comes to everybody else, there are only six other coaches in the league that have a ring. None have more than one.
Baltimore's John Harbaugh, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy and Denver's Gary Kodiak all have rings, and all have proven to be very good coaches in the NFL. But would you call them elite? Probably not.
The only three I think that you would be able to make a case for being elite are Pete Carroll, Sean Payton and Andy Reid.
Carroll really built the Seahawks from the ground up and turned them into a team that won a Super Bowl and came just one yard away from winning another.
Payton faced an impossible task in New Orleans.
He took a team coming off of a disastrous 3-13 season following Hurricane Katrina, a franchise with a knack for losing and wallowing around in mediocrity.
In his first season, he took them to the NFC Championship Game.
They would go on to win their first ever Super Bowl and experience many other memorable playoff runs.
And though Reid has never won a ring, it's hard to ignore the sustained excellence he has been able to achieve over the past two decades in both Philadelphia and Kansas City.
Those three coaches, along with Tomlin, are flirting with that elite line.
The one edge that Carroll, Payton and Reid do have over Tomlin is that they were able to build their teams from nothing. When they took over at their respective stops, the cupboards were bare.
Contrarily, Tomlin took over a Pittsburgh franchise that was already built to win and win big. They were just a year removed from winning a Super Bowl.
Either way, Tomlin has proven that he's not just a one-hit wonder. He has proven that he can win, even when Bill Cowher's players began to leave the city.
Whether he's elite or not, that's questionable. What's not questionable is that Tomlin deserved more respect than what Bradshaw was willing to give him.