Steelers awaiting penalties for Tomlin in sideline incident
The Steelers likely will learn early in the week what punishment will result from coach Mike Tomlin edging onto the field of play — intentionally or not — and causing Jacoby Jones to shift direction during a long kickoff return Thursday in Baltimore.
Based on precedent, the Steelers could receive a fine in the six-figure range for Tomlin wandering beyond the white sideline stripe and onto the field during Jones' 73-yard return, which led to a field goal in the Ravens' 22-20 victory. Tomlin also could be disciplined.
Tomlin, watching the stadium scoreboard rather than the play in progress, pulled his right foot back just in time to avoid colliding with Jones, who shifted to his right and subsequently was caught by Cortez Allen.
Regardless of Tomlin's intention, the NFL could punish the Steelers and the coach because the league holds head coaches to the highest standard of on-field conduct. The league also could decide to send a message by invoking a stiff penalty that would discourage other coaches and sideline personnel from attempting to influence any play.
Tomlin was not flagged for being on the field — a non-call that could result in the league disciplining referee Clete Blakeman.
Only last week, Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for colliding with an official along the white stripe. That incident led the NFL to send a video to head coaches last week warning personnel to stay off the white sideline stripe during plays, according to FOX Sports.
Three years ago, the Jets were fined $100,000 after strength coach Sal Alosi tripped Dolphins special teams player Nolan Carroll. Alosi had lined up a string of inactive players along the sideline on punt plays, apparently to disrupt the gunners who pursue the ball after it is kicked.
The NFL is believed to be especially concerned about the Tomlin incident because he was appointed to the league's rule-creating competition committee earlier this year. It is not certain whether Tomlin's action will result in the league asking him to step down from the committee.
While ESPN reported Sunday the Steelers' punishment could include the loss of a draft pick in addition to a fine, such a penalty — or a Tomlin suspension — seems unlikely given the league's inability to determine Tomlin's intent.
Tomlin apologized for being on the field — something he said all NFL coaches do — but denied deliberately trying to disrupt Jones. The NFL does not routinely talk to players in advance of fining them, so the league probably would not discuss Tomlin's action with him in advance of its ruling.
The NBA fined Nets coach Jason Kidd $50,000 last week for gaining a competitive advantage by spilling a beverage onto the playing floor late in a game.
While the Steelers practice Monday, Tomlin is not expected to talk with reporters again until his weekly news conference Tuesday.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers running backs Bell, Blount will face drug charges
- It’s only exhibition, but these Steelers could solidify roster spots vs. Eagles
- Commitment by Steelers’ Gilbert pays off
- Run game not primary focal point for Steelers
- Steelers are hoping to mirror Eagles’ full-bore, no-huddle offense
- Rossi: Blount brings back Steelers’ swagger
- Steelers re-sign Keisel to bolster depth on defensive line
- Steelers believe Wheaton ready to step in as No. 2 receiver
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu not concerned with being old man among safeties
- Gradkowski, Jones struggling to fill backup QB duties for Steelers
- Steelers sign tackle Gilbert to $30 million deal