Quick question: Have you ever seen Mike Tomlin and Omar Epps in the same room? No? That’s because … they’re the same person!
OK, fine. That’s not true. Tomlin, 48, and Epps, 47, are not the same person, nor are they related. But you have probably noticed the uncanny resemblance over the last decade-plus.
After Tomlin became the head coach of the Steelers in 2007 and led Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl title in 2008, his profile naturally rose. Epps was already an established actor with a strong resume full of movie and TV credits by that time, so the doppelganger talk was unavoidable.
The Tomlin-Epps connection hit another level in 2009 when Fox’s medical drama “House” got in on the fun. In the Season 6 episode “Ignorance Is Bliss,” Dr. Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie) fires a Tomlin-inspired joke in the direction of Dr. Eric Foreman (played by Epps).
“I got all my starters back, plus a couple of first-class free agents. I feel like Mike Tomlin,” House says before staring directly at Foreman. “Probably not as much as you do, but you get the idea.”
That only helped fuel more comments over the next few years. During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session in 2014, one user posted a question about Epps’ “strategy going into the game against the Bengals.”
“I’m a Cowboys fan,” Epps responded. “Was that a Tomlin joke?”
Then, in 2015, the “Sunday Night Football” production team called upon Tomlin’s wife, Kiya, to challenge Steelers fans to identify whether the photos presented to them featured Tomlin or Epps. The participants did a decent job, though there were a few slip-ups.
“If you ever have any doubts, always bet on the one with the dimples,” Kiya said. Good tip.
Here’s the big question: Have Tomlin and Epps ever crossed paths?
“We’ve never met before,” Epps said on “The Rich Eisen Show” in 2016. “I can’t stand the Steelers because I’m a Cowboys fan. I won’t step foot in that stadium. We gotta meet on neutral ground.”
Well, until these guys actually stand across from each other and prove they are different human beings, the conspiracy theory is still in play.
Good luck to coach Epps in the 2021 NFL playoffs.