Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is lighter in the wallet after his sideline fiasco on Thanksgiving night in Baltimore.
(Photo: Mitch Stringer, USA TODAY Sports)
The NFL came down hard on Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was fined $100,000 Wednesday and may still cost his organization the modification or forfeiture of draft choices for interfering with Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones on Thanksgiving night.
The sanctions were imposed by NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson.
The potential impact on Pittsburgh's draft choices "will be considered after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined," the league announced in a statement.
Tomlin apologized for his "embarrassing, inexcusable and illegal" blunder Tuesday but said it was not intentional and that he had lost his place along the M&T Bank Stadium sideline. He was interviewed Sunday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and spoke Monday with Anderson and VP of football operations Merton Hanks.
The coach issued the following statement through the Steelers on Wednesday after the league made its decision: "As I stated yesterday, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins."
Tomlin violated Rule 13, Section 1, Article 4 of the NFL Rule Book when he crossed into the six-foot restricted white border that surrounds the playing field during Jones' 73-yard, third-quarter return. Jones was tackled at the 27-yard-line, about 11 yards past where Tomlin jumped out of the way to avoid him.
Because Tomlin set foot "on the playing field during the play," Jones was forced to veer back away from the sideline to avoid the coach, whose back was to the play as he watched it while facing the end-zone big screen video board.
Baltimore won the game 22-20.
"I don't ever like to see guys get fined, coaches or players, anything," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco told Minneapolis reporters in a conference call. The Ravens play the Vikings on Sunday.
"I never like to see guys have money get taken out of their pockets, but it is what it is. I haven't really thought too much about it."
Tomlin's standing on the league's competition committee seems to have factored into the stiff penalty the league levied against him and, possibly, the Steelers.
Anderson noted that Tomlin's positioning during the play should also have resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, which wasn't called by the officiating crew.
The $100,000 fine is equal to the amount levied against the New York Jets when former Jets strength coach Sal Alosi tripped Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll during a 2010 game. After consulting with the league, Alosi was suspended without pay for the rest of that season, which included three regular-season and three playoff games.