Mike Tomlin may have gotten away with a sideline stunt during the Pittsburgh Steelers contest on Thanksgiving night, but the NFL may still have punishment in mind.
Tomlin stood on the sidelines with one foot on the field as Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones broke a long run. It seemed as if Jones might have a chance to score a touchdown, but had to cut back slightly when he came across Tomlin on the field and was tackled from behind.
Referees didn’t catch Mike Tomlin’s stunt, and if they had could have awarded an automatic score to Jones. If a coach or player from the sidelines interferes with a runner, it is the referee’s discretion to award a touchdown on the play.
Though it seemed at first as if the league might fine Tomlin and the Steelers and possibly suspend the coach for a short period, sources now say the NFL is considering an even more drastic punishment.
Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer reported that the league was warning teams about sideline interference just the day before the Steelers contest, making the infraction that much more infuriating to the league.
Coaches who have interfered with players in the past have faced strict punishment. When low-level New York Jets assistant Sal Alosi interfered with a player, the team was fined $100,000 and ultimately fired by the Jets.
In the NBA, first-year head coach Jason Kidd was fined $50,000 for appearing to intentionally spill a cup of soda on the court to gain an advantage and earn an extra time out.
Mike Tomlin may not be facing the same situation. He is a Super Bowl winning coach and a member of the NFL’s powerful Competition Committee, and the league may be more careful in its punishment. A decision is not expected for at least a few more days.