It could’ve been worse for Mike Tomlin, but not much worse.
The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach was fined $100,000 by the NFL for his actions Thanksgiving night in Baltimore, during which he stepped onto the field as the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff down the sideline. Tomlin appeared to edge onto the green turf at M&T Bank Stadium, redirecting Jones toward his eventual tacklers.
Tomlin apologized for his actions in Tuesday’s press conference, but the NFL decided to levy the second-biggest fine to a coach in league history. Only New England’s Bill Belichick, who was tolled $500,000 for his role in the Patriots’ spying scandal several years ago, has been fined more.
The NFL also stated it will “consider modification or forfeiture” of the Steelers’ 2014 draft picks once the Super Bowl is over. On the positive side for Pittsburgh, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Steelers organization wasn’t fined and Tomlin wasn’t removed from the league’s competition committee.
While it’s plausible Tomlin absentmindedly stepped too close to the action while following the kick return on Baltimore’s video board – as he claimed – there’s enough ambiguity in his movements that the penalty seems justified. The Ravens were limited to a field goal on the subsequent drive, but the Steelers couldn’t complete their comeback and lost 22-20 to fall to 5-7.
Intentional or not, Tomlin’s Turkey Day stumble doesn’t reflect well on his reputation, or that of the Steelers in general. Perhaps he should consider himself fortunate he didn’t cost himself and his team more.