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Rooney: No further punishment related to Tomlin sideline incident

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Ravens' Jacoby Jones returns a kick down the Steelers sideline as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin moves off the field during the third quarter Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

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By Alan Robinson
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 3:21 p.m.
 

Maybe the NFL believes the Steelers already were punished enough.

The Steelers won't lose a draft pick for coach Mike Tomlin's sideline two-step during Ravens returner Jacoby Jones' 73-yard kickoff return in Baltimore last season, team president Art Rooney II said Thursday.

“We are glad that's behind us,” Rooney said.

Tomlin drew a $100,000 fine, matching the second-largest for a coach in league history, for turning his back to the play, edging onto the field and nearly colliding with Jones, who complained of being forced to change direction. The Ravens went on to win, 22-20 on Nov. 28.

Former NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson later said the Steelers also faced the possible loss of a draft pick or some other draft-related penalty. The Steelers would have formally appealed any such penalty.

Now, they can continue preparing for a draft in which they will have six picks plus two conditional picks — likely, a third and a fifth — that are expected to be awarded at next week's league meetings in Orlando. In advance of the draft, Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert attended Notre Dame's pro day Thursday.

While it might not have been a factor in the league's decision to not take away a pick, the Steelers missed the playoffs in part because of a blown officiating call during the Chiefs-Chargers game on the final day of the regular season.

They would have made the postseason if the field included 14 teams, not just the current 12 — an expansion that could take place as early as 2015. Rooney said the issue will be discussed in Orlando.

The Steelers are in favor as long as the playoff field is not reseeded and division champions continue to have home-field advantage during the divisional round.

“We would not be in favor of anything that changes the division situation,” he said.

On other league topics, Rooney said:

• The replay system could be tweaked to allow referees to communicate with the league office during replay reviews.

“Frankly, I think that happens anyway,” he said. “In terms of anything more ambitious than that, I think it's going to be studied.”

Other proposed changes include allowing a coach to challenge any call.

• He isn't sure if penalizing teams for on-field racial slurs is the best way to address the issue.

“I think it's a little bit of a generation gap kind of thing,” Rooney said. “I think the younger players have a different attitude toward it and you can't change that with just a 15-yard penalty.”

• He doesn't see any consensus toward moving the ball back to the 20- or 25-yard line on an extra point or for altering the goal posts. He likes Tomlin's idea to run all extra point plays from the 1-yard line, but it was not formally proposed by the Steelers.

“It certainly would encourage people to go for the two,” Rooney said.

• There are NFL teams “interested” in the Los Angeles and London markets, and, “It may not be too much longer before there is some action on those fronts.”

• He doesn't favor increasing the active roster from 46 to 49 for Thursday games, which often are a team's second game in five days.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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