By Matt Napolitano, Humor Columnist
House. Love and Basketball. Scream 2. Omar Epps has a very long resume, but he wants to reinforce something about it. He is not the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Epps is infuriated by the constant questions about the NFL franchise and is sick and tired of people mixing him up with the head coach, Mike Tomlin.
I mean, it is undeniable, Tomlin could easily pass for Willie Mays Hayes from Major League 2 (Wesley Snipes, if you're reading this, I hope jail is treating you nicely). However, Epps tells us exclusively (not really) that he is just getting annoyed with the Steelers talk. "I can't take it anymore. I've got kids walking up to me, asking for an autograph, asking me what Rashard Mendenhall's like, if they can have a yellow towel -- I'm not Mike Tomlin!" screamed the Higher Learning star.
Epps has had a long acting career and has long made a name for himself, but the day Bill Cowher left the Steelers was just the beginning of what would become his own private hell. "I watched the press conference on ESPN introducing Tomlin and my friend says to me, ‘Hey, he looks just like you, man', I told him he was crazy," said Epps.
And then the e-mails poured in. "All these reporters from across the country, e-mailing me, asking for interviews. I thought it was for a film I was doing. My agent contacted them and the questions were ‘What's it like taking a head coaching job? How will you deal with Roethlisberger off the field?' I was floored."
At first, Epps took advantage of it with a trip to Pittsburgh, getting free food, kissing babies and meeting ladies. "I lived it up, I figured why not." Then the Steelers beat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. "And just like that, no one remembered Omar Epps, even FOX forgot about me. They advertised that Mike Tomlin was guest starring on House…in my role!"
In fact, the staff on House is becoming Steelers fans for the sake of Epps. "I walked in. Hugh [Laurie] knocks on my door and asks for skybox seats at Heinz Field. I mean, he even spoke in his British accent; it was like, what the hell you're not in character, stop walking around with the cane. Oh, yea, and the ticket thing upset me."
Epps can't even go to a party without coming under question. "We were wrapping on the set of a movie in Georgia and we went down to this bar. I walk in with one of my bodyguards, a really tall guy with a beard and all of a sudden people start running for the exit," said Epps shaking his head. "I heard some chick scream, ‘Oh, god, Big Ben is back, and he brought Tomlin to finish the job.'"
It was then Epps spiraled into depression. "I didn't want to leave the house. I always felt like if I walked out the door, Rich Eisen would be outside to interview me for NFL Network".
Then, suddenly a light, a blessing in disguise: The Rooney Rule.
The Rooney Rule requires that NFL teams interview minority coaches if there is a vacancy in the franchise. Epps took full advantage of this. "I called up every franchise, saying I'm Mike Tomlin, and I want to come in for the coordinator or head coaching spot," laughed the Juice star. "It's great, I mess with ESPN and those guys, I travel the USA and Mike Tomlin's world is put in a tizzy. Payback baby!! Wooo!"
So while Epps heads on a cross country journey, Tomlin is left in turmoil. In fact, we got a statement from Tomlin saying just how aggravated he is with Epps' actions. "He thinks it's easy for me, I get confused with Quincy McCall all the time! And now, he's ruining my reputation in the coaching world. I have had to spend these past two weeks getting the NFL and media off my back for saying I was going to the Titans and the Browns. Luckily, I had nothing else to take my focus."
Packers 31, Steelers 25. Game: Quincy McCall.