Rooney II: Offer discussed, but not tendered
Could a misunderstanding or miscommunication have occurred that led Russ Grimm to believe that he was offered the Steelers' head-coaching job Saturday?
Art Rooney II, the team's president, believes that is possible. A published report declared that Grimm had been offered and accepted the Steelers' head-coaching job Saturday night. The Steelers hired Mike Tomlin as their coach Sunday and publicly introduced him Monday.
Yesterday, Grimm accepted a job as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach of the Arizona Cardinals, the same titles he held with the Steelers. The job reunites him with new Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, the Steelers' former offensive coordinator who had been considered among the leading candidates to replace Bill Cowher, along with Grimm. The Steelers released Grimm from his contract with them after he requested it.
Rooney did not deny that the team discussed an offer with Grimm, but he said no deal was completed.
"Let me put it this way: We made Russ a finalist, and I think at that point we felt he was somebody we seriously were considering for the job," Rooney said yesterday. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Russ and I do hope he gets a shot to be a head coach; I think he deserves it. I think its fair to say he came close."
Rooney admitted that the Steelers had talked about contract numbers with Grimm's agent, but he said they also talked about numbers with Tomlin's representatives.
As for any such contract offer they might have given to Grimm, Rooney said, "We discussed that it's not going to be final until it's final. It's one of those things I think we made clear it was not final at the time we spoke."
A possible misunderstanding then?
"I think on the agent's part; they tend to think in those kinds of terms," Rooney said. "I think we made it clear at the time we spoke that it was not final, and we were going to speak again on Sunday. I believe the agent was told not to say anything to anybody because of that. I think the league people caused some confusion, which was unfortunate, but that didn't come from us."
The Steelers were furious over reports that surfaced Saturday on SI.com and ESPN that Tomlin had been chosen as their head coach. They insisted they did not pick their coach until Sunday. Rooney blamed "league people" for those reports.
"Let's put it this way, I think I know where both of the leaks came from and I think it's unfortunate when people talk about something when you're dealing with these things," Rooney said, then quoted an old Yogi Berra saying. "It ain't over 'til it's over, and people were claiming something was over when it was not."
Grimm seemed disappointed, but said he wasn't bitter over the way events played out.
"Obviously, it was tough," Grimm told reporters in a conference call yesterday. "I thought I had a shot at it. Whatever the details are and things like that, I respect the decision that was made.
"It's time to move on. I'm thrilled to be in Arizona."
Grimm's agent, Eric Metz, declined comment.
Rooney said it was extremely close between Tomlin and Grimm.
"I think it's fair to say Russ was close. We gave serious consideration to giving Russ the job, and he merited it. That's why we made him a finalist."
-- There is a report that Ken Anderson will be hired as the Steelers' quarterbacks coach. Anderson, fired recently as quarterbacks coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, would replace Mark Whipple, the Steelers' current quarterbacks coach, according to a story on bengals.com. It is unlikely that Whipple will be retained. Anderson, the Bengals' all-time passing leader, coached the quarterbacks and also was offensive coordinator at various times from 1992 through 2002 in Cincinnati.