And please, spare me the whole “there’s no love lost between those guys” garbage. The players on the field don’t like one another either, but when the game ends, they join hands and sit down on the field for a minute of reflection that also serves as a reminder to them that the most important thing of all is walking out of that stadium healthy once the game concludes.
It’s also worth noting that Harbaugh didn’t bite the hook on Monday when asked about the handshake during his late afternoon weekly press conference.
Despite being privately put-off by Tomlin’s inappropriate gesture, the Ravens coach glossed over it with the media, essentially saying “There was nothing wrong with it (handshake) as far as I was concerned.”
That wasn’t quite true, but John Harbaugh wasn’t born yesterday. He knows if he even remotely mentions the handshake that people all over the country will pounce on him for being a bad loser. Ironically, he was trying to do the exact opposite after the game when he approached midfield.
Mike Tomlin has coached long enough to know this: Win or lose, you walk to midfield and you give the other guy the five seconds of personal and professional respect he damn well deserves because, as you know, he worked his tail off all week to try and beat you and you did the same in an effort to beat him.
It’s five seconds.
When you’re the losing coach, you put your head up and you walk to midfield and you shake the hand of the man who just beat you because that’s what competitors do.
And when you win, it’s even more important to say and do the right thing — because with every great triumph comes humility, knowing it could be the last game you win for a week or a month or a season.
Lastly, I know none of this is even close to as important as the game itself, which Pittsburgh won fair and square on Sunday night. I realize that. I accept that bringing up this blip-on-a-radar-screen moment of poor sportsmanship doesn’t change the outcome or in any way diminish the impact of the loss to Pittsburgh. Believe me, on the grand scale, the outcome of the game is far, far more important than the handshake that did or didn’t happen. I know who wins and loses is what’s most important.
I also know Mike Tomlin hasn’t yet called John Harbaugh to apologize for his clown act on Sunday night.
And, for sure, I also know this: He should.