Picture Taken By: Shane Dunlap I Tribune-Review
Under the leadership of their head coach Mike Tomlin, the Pittsburgh Steelers have worked to raise awareness of child sex trafficking since last NFL season by supporting Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). The organization is composed of a group of former CIA operatives, special ops personnel and Navy Seals that rescue children worldwide in the sex trafficking and child slave industry. Tomlin recently joined OUR in a three-day mission to help change the culture on the island by empowering the local people to start self-policing and saving child sex slaves in their area.
Tomlin was originally inspired to take on such a serious social issue in wake of the National Anthem controversy that began last season. He understood that the debate was just one of several topics in the world today that divide not only the NFL but the human race as a people. He wanted to unite his team by focusing their attention on something they could all get behind, especially since most of his team are husbands and fathers.
Tomlin’s trip to Haiti brought him face-to-face with the issue, deepening his passion for the cause and solidifying his role as the face of OUR’s mission. As the father of a 12-year-old daughter, he sympathized with the stories of over 30 million child sex slaves worldwide who fuel a $150 billion business. He described what he saw in Haiti as things that he’ll “never be able to unsee,” but he uses his discomfort as fuel to get even more involved with combating child sex slavery.
As a coach, Tomlin brilliantly found common ground for his team to agree upon in the midst of a time of division. He continues to extend his role as a leader to transcend the football field and use his platform as the head coach of arguably the most storied franchise in sports to shed light on a social issue that hit home for both him and his players. Tomlin’s fervent dedication to ending child sex trafficking drove him to witness the problem firsthand, setting an amazing example of how powerful sports figures can be in making a worldwide difference.