In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports is publishing the series “29 Black Stories in 29 Days.” We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials continue to face after the nation’s reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. This is the fourth installment of the series.
This week Kiya Tomlin posted a message on TikTok and her words, despite such a short video, said so much.
“Kiya Tomlin here,” she started. “Wife of 27 years to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. So all this talk about where is all the really cool licensed NFL apparel for women. I just have to say: Been here, been doing that.”
The video then switched to images of women wearing Tomlin’s NFL inspired designs. The message was powerful and clear.
“After seeing all the commotion about Taylor Swift,” Tomlin said in an interview with USA TODAY Sports, “I just wanted to say, ‘I’m here. I’ve been doing this. Here’s my work.'”
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I’m the guy who wears his pajamas into the grocery store so fashion isn’t my thing but by all accounts Tomlin’s designs, including her NFL licensed apparel, are stylish, and high quality. Also, her track record in this space is lengthy, starting in 2014, and she says her products are cut and sewn in America. She’s a small business success story.
So why have so few people heard of what she’s doing? That’s a great question and the answer is nuanced. But it cannot be answered without the context of the story of Kristin Juszczyk.
She is the wife of 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Kristin, too, started a clothing line and like Tomlin, she was able to get