The national reaction to Mike Tomlin’s now-famous ‘sideline two-step’ has reached such a level that the NFL will have no choice but to levy a harsh penalty. And deservedly so.
According to published reports, a disciplinary hearing for Tomlin was set for today in the NFL offices in New York City. A decision is expected to be made public later in the week.
In almost all certainty, though, that penalty will not include the loss of a draft choice, as has been speculated in some places. A stiff fine to the Steelers or Tomlin or both is in order. Unless there is some unknown previous history, the loss of a draft choice would be well beyond excessive.
Regardless of his intent, Tomlin made a serious breach of NFL rules. He interfered with play. That’s almost unheard of. Coaches influence play by strategy; not by physical actions on the field.
The NFL needs to set an example with Tomlin to nip and further such acts by him or other coaches. It will also set the tone to keep everyone -- players and other coaches sometimes wander astray -- away from the sideline.
After the Steelers had scored a touchdown on their first possession of the third quarter, Shaun Suisham kicked off to Jacoby Jones, who caught the ball at the goal line. As Jones raced upfield on the sideline where the Steelers bench is, Tomlin was viewing the action from the stadium’s Jumbotron screen. He back was to the play.
Tomlin has his foot on the white line. As Jones draw closer, he move his foot a bit further on to the field and immediately pulls it back. The move appears to affect Jones, who veers slightly away from the sideline.
This move might have been enough to allow Cortez Allen to make a touchdown-saving tackle on the Steelers' 27. The Ravens advanced to the 7-yard line but had to settle for a field goal. Although the Ravens won by two points, Tomlin’s actions could have had a major effect on the outcome of the game.
Tomlin’s explanation: “I always watch the returns on the Jumbotron to provide a better perspective and I obviously lost my placement.”
Not good enough. Not close to being good enough. Only Tomlin knows his intent, and it could have been deliberate.
Tomlin gets a Belichick ‘A’ for sneakery; an ‘F’ for professional ethics.