Bradshaw wasn't willing to label Tomlin as a great coach in December, saying "he's really a great cheerleader guy."
"I wish I hadn't had said 'cheerleader,'" Bradshaw said Wednesday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It was an instantaneous response. I referenced it to on the sideline the camera will catch him a lot of times and he's gyrating, so cheerleading was the first thing that came to my mind."
Fellow former NFL player and broadcaster Howie Long did his best to help smooth the waters on Wednesday by suggesting "motivator" as a more appropriate term.
"Motivator would have been a better word," Bradshaw said. "Listen, I'm in the business of saying things, giving opinions. I'm not going to stop because Mike Tomlin - and I played in Pittsburgh. I'm not going to back off. I did it to Ben Roethlisberger when he got the motorcycle crash. My job is not to hide from what I say, you know. Be a little bit better. ... Shouldn't have said the cheerleader part, but life moves on."
Tomlin took issue with Bradshaw's initial comments, saying they fall "outside the bounds of critique or criticism. They probably fall more toward the area of disrespect and unprofessional."
Pittsburgh players, including Roethlisberger, backed Tomlin with supportive comments.
Bradshaw quarterbacked the Steelers from 1970-83 and won four Super Bowl titles. He is considered one of the top players in Pittsburgh history.
Tomlin won his fifth AFC North title after the Steelers rallied for a 31-27 victory over the rival Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Day. The win sent Tomlin's team into the playoffs for the seventh time.
Bradshaw said he considered Tomlin's predecessor, Bill Cowher, to be a great coach. In his 15 years as Steelers head coach, Cowher was 149-90-1 (.623) from 1992-2006, with 10 playoff appearances, two AFC championships and one Super Bowl title. He had three seasons under .500.
Bradshaw's coach, Chuck Noll, had 193 career wins from 1969-1991.
As a comparison, Tomlin has never had a losing record. He is one of eight head coaches in NFL history to win at least 100 games in the first 10 years on the job.