Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 by the NFL for his sidelines play on Thanksgiving night, and more punishment could still be on the way for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tomlin stood by the sidelines as Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones broke a long return. With his foot slightly onto the field, Tomlin forced Jones to cut back into the field just as he was caught by a Steelers tackler.
On Wednesday the league announced that Tomlin would receive a $100,000 fine, among the largest in recent memory, and that it was still considering stripping the Steelers of a draft pick in 2014.
Mike Tomlin apologized for the play during his press conference on Tuesday and claimed he didn’t intend to get in the way of Jones during the kick return. Referees did not flag Tomlin on the play, and could have awarded Jones a touchdown if they determined that Tomlin impeded him in any way.
Tomlin’s players stuck by him as well. Safetye Ryan Clark said that Tomlin didn’t intentionally step onto the field, but instead lost his orientation as he was watching the jumbotron.
“No intent at all,” Clark said following the Steelers’ first practice of the week. “If he had tripped him or tackled him it would have been a different story but he didn’t. When he noticed he was in the way he dived away.”
In announcing its decision, the league noted:
“During the return, Tomlin – in violation of Rule 13, Section 1, Article 4 of the NFL Rule Book – was in the restricted white border that surrounds the playing field and stepped foot onto the playing field during the play.”
This is just the fourth time the NFL has handed down a fine of $100,000 or more to a coach. New England coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 for his role in the Patriots spying scandal.
Mike Tomlin has not said if he will appeal the $100,000 fine.