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We have all seen the video. And the various photoshopped pictures that portray Pittsburgh Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin interfering in different events throughout history.
In case you were suffering from a serious tryptophan hangover and missed it entirely, during the third quarter of the Ravens 22-20 win over the Steelers on Thanksgiving Day, Tomlin stepped in front of Jacoby Jones during a kickoff return that could have potentially been taken to the house, and instead resulted in Jones being tackled on the 27-yard line.
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Tomlin said “I always watch the returns on the Jumbo Tron; it provides a better perspective for me. I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play…I do it quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League . I was wrong, I accept responsibility.”
An official punishment has not been handed down by the league thus far, as they likely have a large amount on their plate after the long weekend of football and the officiating blunder by Jeff Tripplette and his crew during the Redskins match up with the Giants.
What type of penalty should one receive for such an act?
While Tomlin can claim that it was an accident, I am not buying it and he shouldn’t be selling it. He is a former player, knows the rules and the boundaries of the football field. The newer video that has been released provides a different angle that clearly shows where his eyes are looking and his premeditated action.
What makes all of this even worse is that Tomlin is one of three coaches on the NFL’s nine-member competition committee, a group that studies all aspects of the game and recommends rule changes and policies to the league.
While I agree that Tomlin should be held to higher standard for such an infraction, the speculation about the loss of a draft pick is just not a viable option. Punishing the entire Steelers franchise is not the appropriate action here.
The penalty needs to come out of Tomlin’s pocket and be sizable enough to hurt. Let’s start at six figures and go from there.
Another fine and or punishment should be handed down to the referees who were working that Thanksgiving Day game. There were two on-field officials who saw the whole incident and neither one managed to throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Whatever the NFL decides to do to reprimand Tomlin on this issue, let’s hope it is harsh enough to deter others from ever interfering with the field of play again. Not only could his little on-field step have seriously injured himself or the athletes, it potentially could have impacted the outcome of the game, unfairly.
It will be interesting to see where the league office decides to go with this and what the final punishments will be. Will Roger Goodell’s iron fist and no tolerance policy apply to head coaches as well, especially one’s hand selected for his competition committee?
We are all watching and waiting.