The NFL has closed the book officially on the sideline step heard round the world. They’ve informed Steelers President Art Rooney II that Mike Tomlin’s $100,000 fine for his sideline interference during the Thanksgiving night game between the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will be the extent of the punishment and the Steelers will not be docked a draft pick as previously warned.
The play occurred in the 3rd quarter after a Steelers touchdown had brought them within 6 and Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was returning the ensuing kick down the sidelines. Mike Tomlin was sanding with one foot basically on the field and watching the play on the jumbotron ahead. He didn’t get out of the way fast enough and altered Jones’ route, which resulted in the Steelers tackling him after a 73-yard return. The play instantly became controversial with questions being raised on whether or not Tomlin had stepped on the field intentionally to interfere with the play.
Tomlin himself admitted his negligence in a lengthy press conference the following week and was fined $100K by the NFL with the impending threat of a docked draft pick. While Tomlin accepted his fine and full responsibility for the incident the NFL, or anyone else for that matter, couldn’t and still can’t prove he intentionally interfered with the play.
Given Tomlin’s track record and reputation, it’s very hard for logic-minded people to believe that Tomlin had any malicious intent on the play. Yes it was beyond stupid of him to have been in that position on the field and even worse to watch the play unfold on the jumbotron instead of realizing his proximity to the returner but the hit he took to his bank account and reputation for the incident was the correct punishment. The NFL would have been completely out of line to dock the organization a draft pick for an incident for which it’s impossible to prove intent by anyone involved. Good thing too because the Steelers need all their draft picks this year like it’s nobody’s business.
Next time I’d like to see a little bit more moves out of Tomlin should he find himself that close to the field during a play again, perhaps the Electric Slide?