He remembers those days and now, as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he's giving 225 young athletes the chance to attend his football camp for free, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported this week.
"All of our corporate sponsors underwrite the entire camp," Tomlin said Thursday during one of the practices. "It's free for every kid out there. We take finances out of it. I was a kid who had some tough financial situations growing up and probably would have not have been able to pay for a camp."
The newspaper reports that most of the young players come from urban areas and receive the same amenities that a pay-for-play camp offers.
"Hopefully, it's inspiring," Tomlin said. "That's my intention. I wasn't afforded opportunities like this when I was a young fellow. That's probably one of the primary reasons I do camps such as these, so these kids know that I'm a regular guy just like their dads or uncles, that I'm not an alien, that I come from somewhere, that I like hanging out with the little ones and encouraging them.
"More importantly, letting them know that they're capable of chasing their dreams and have the opportunity to live their dreams, like I live mine every day."
Tomlin was unable to provide updates on his Steelers players, who he's forbidden from communicating with.
Said Tomlin: "I haven't seen them."