Mike Tomlin fined $100,000 by NFL; Steelers' status of draft picks pending
Published: Dec. 4, 2013 at 11:04 a.m.
The NFL fined Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin $100,000 and will consider modification or forfeiture of draft choices after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined, per a statement issued by the league.
The penalties are a result of Tomlin's actions on the sideline during a kickoff return in the Steelers' 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13. In the third quarter, Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones appeared to break free down the sideline only to be slowed by Tomlin -- who had his back to Jones and was standing on the white stripe hugging the field.
Ultimately, Jones was corralled from behind by Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen. Though the officials did not flag Tomlin for unsportsmanlike conduct, the league decided to pursue discipline against the coach and his team after the game.
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said on Tuesday's edition of NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" that Tomlin should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"Anytime a player or a coach from the sideline is in this white area, that's a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct," Blandino said on Tuesday's edition of NFL Network's "NFL Total Access." "If they interfere with the play, it could be what's called a 'palpably unfair act.'
"In that instance, the referee could basically penalize the team whatever he deems equitable, which could include giving the Ravens a touchdown. That's not the case here, but certainly coach Tomlin was in the white. He should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct."
Tomlin has maintained that his conduct on the play was not intentional.
"If anybody thinks I or anybody else would do this on purpose they are crazy," FOX's Jay Glazer quoted Tomlin as saying Monday on "Fox Football Daily."
The coach further elaborated on his stance in a Tuesday news conference, calling the incident "embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal (and) a blunder," while acknowledging that he would "take his medicine" for the aftermath of the play.
"I take full responsibility for my actions on the play," Tomlin said. "I acknowledge that my actions unfortunately became part of the play. ... I also embrace that as head coaches, weâre held to the highest standards of conduct, and I realize that that blunder fell woefully short of that expectation, and in that vein, I ... understand the repercussions from a blunder of that nature.
"I think probably my biggest error on Thursday night is not realizing that that play jeopardized the integrity of the game from a perception standpoint. At no time Thursday night in the game or after, did I realize that my actions would be perceived potentially, or could be perceived potentially as intentional."
Tomlin was recently added to the NFL's competition committee, and Rapoport reported Sunday on NFL Network's "NFL GameDay Morning" that the league took that into consideration in making its final decision.
Jones acknowledged that Tomlin's presence affected the return man's trajectory on the 73-yard scamper.
"I eased up," Jones told NFL Network's "NFL AM" on Nov. 29. "At the time when I was looking at him, I was like, 'I ain't going to run through him.' Everybody was like, 'You should've ran over him,' and I'm like, 'Man, good God, I'm not that type of person.'"