After nearly a week of talking about how Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would be punished for having a foot on the field during Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return last Thursday, the NFL has handed down its discipline.
The league fined Tomlin $100,000 for “interfering with a play in progress” against the Ravens where he arguably led Jones to slow down and change directions during a 73-yard kickoff return that might have ended up going for a touchdown.
In addition, the league issues a “modification or forfeiture of draft choices” that will be considered after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined because the coach’s conduct affected a play on the field.
The discipline was issued by NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson.
Tomlin violated Rule 13, Section 1, Article 4 of the NFL Rulebook by being in the restricted white border that surrounds the playing field and stepped foot onto the playing field during the play. The league also acknowledged that Tomlin’s positioning in the white border during play should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
During his Tuesday press conference, Tomlin discussed his actions at length and was hard on himself for the misdeed, calling it “embarrassing” and “inexcusable.”
“I take full responsibility for my actions on the play,” Tomlin told reporters. “I acknowledge that my actions unfortunately became part of the play. ... I also embrace that as head coaches, we are held to the highest standards of conduct, and I realize that that blunder fell woefully short of that expectation, and in that vein, I ... understand the repercussions from a blunder of that nature.
“I think probably my biggest error on Thursday night is not realizing that that play jeopardized the integrity of the game from a perception standpoint. At no time Thursday night in the game or after, did I realize that my actions would be perceived potentially, or could be perceived potentially as intentional.”