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Fine justified — and enough — for Steelers’ Tomlin PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, December 07, 2013 9:00 PM

By JIM METCALFE

Sports Editor

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Who knows what was really going through the mind of Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin in Thursday night’s Thanksgiving Day battle with archrival Baltimore?

I am sure most fans know he was where he shouldn’t have been on Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return. He was basically oh-so-close to the field — right on the line — and then did a two-step to put himself barely on the field, so much so that the official on that sideline had to side-step the coach.

Quite frankly, he should have been flagged, no matter the intention. He is a new member of the National Football League’s Competition Committee, so he should have known better. After all, everyone else was where they were supposed to be — behind the white area. Refer to the replays.

To me, the giveaway was the smile he had on his face shortly after, as if he knew he “got away with it” — I don’t pretend to know if Jones would have scored but it was pretty clear he had to avoid the coach.

He was fined $100,000 by the NFL and, to his credit, he will not appeal the fine. He admits he shouldn’t have done it.

Jones also didn’t blame the coach for his not scoring, which he told reporters that night he should have.

Good for both men.

I get that his players are coming to his defense — they almost have to — but if it had been on the other side and it had been their returner, think they’d have agreed?

I also don’t think the league should take away a potential draft pick as further punishment; this coming from an acknowledged not-fan of the Steelers.

He made a mistake and will pay a fine; let it be done with. If he does it again, all bets are off.

What isn’t good is the officiating crew that did not throw a flag.

I get that they will miss calls: holding, pass interference, etc.; but this was very straightforward. The official had to step back from the field to not run into the coach and having been on the sideline covering many a football game in high school, I am well aware of the constant reminders that officials have to tell teams, coaches and players about the “neutral zone” or whatever the official term is.

It seems — whether it is true or simply perception, I leave to you, my 11,341 faithful readers! — that the NFL has had to apologize for its officials a lot more these days.

I get that with slow motion, Super-Slo Motion, Super-Duper Slo-Mo, Hour-Glass Slo-Mo and Ice Age Slo Mo (I made those two up) and such, there is more scrutiny than ever and it isn’t going to get any better.

I think Commissioner Roger Goodell is smart to have a bigger pool of officials to choose from. There is far too much money — and fantasy points! — to have silly mistakes by the officials.

Just like with depth helping out competition on a team, it can’t help but make officials more accountable and work to get better at their jobs.

There will still be mistakes (these are fallible human beings) but let it be for the usual — holding, interference, etc.

———

I better do this now before a certain friend — who shall remain nameless in order to protect his identity from the masses — beats me to death with this.

Two weeks ago, I was talking about how the game of professional football has changed and how good coaches, like Don Shula, proved they could win in the pre-modern (that is, before 1976, when holding for offensive linemen was “legalized” but not for cornerbacks) era and in the passing era.

I made a combination of wide receiver Paul Warfield and bruising fullback Larry Csonka into Paul Csonka.

Mea culpa.

 

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