PITTSBURGH – Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 by the NFL Wednesday for his actions on the sideline during Pittsburgh’s 22-20 loss at Baltimore last Thursday night.
The league also left open the option to take away draft picks or at least modify where the Steelers will make selections in the draft, meaning it could take Tomlin’s actions into account when awarding compensatory draft picks in the spring.
Tomlin drew the fine for stepping on the playing field during a kickoff return by Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones. Tomlin, who was not penalized for being outside of the designated area for coaches and players, was watching the play unfold on the stadium jumbotron and had his back turned to Jones. He jumped out of the way at the last moment, but Jones claimed seeing the coach in that area made him change his direction.
He was caught from behind by Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen.
Tomlin, who spoke for more than 20 minutes about the subject at his news conference Tuesday, addressed the fine via a press release.
“As I stated yesterday, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Tomlin said. “I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.”
The fine was one of the largest handed out to a head coach in the history of the NFL.
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton was suspended for a season without pay and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for half a season without pay, in 2012 for their part in the team paying bounties to players.
New England head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 for his part in the Patriots’ illegal videotaping of opponents’ practices and sidelines, and Minnesota’s Mike Tice was fined $100,000 for illegally selling game tickets.
New York Jets strength and condtioning coach Sal Alosi was fined $100,000 and suspended for the remainder of the season by the team in 2010 after he was caught purposely tripping a Miami player during a kick return along the sideline. Alosi eventually resigned after the season.
Tomlin will make $5.75 million this year and is in no danger of being fired.
His players were surprised at the amount of the fine.
“Wow,” said linebacker LaMarr Woodley. “I guess he’s got it.”
The players aren’t about to donate to help pay Tomlin’s fine, either.
“No,” said Woodley. “The few times I’ve been fined, nobody helped me.”
To a man, the players wanted to move past the incident and, like Tomlin, focus on trying to beat the Dolphins to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
“It’s not the most ridiculous thing that has come down from the NFL,” said safety Ryan Clark. “There have been fines for different things. You knew they would come down on him hard, set an example about the rule. I’m just glad it didn’t go into the draft-pick talk and all of that. Coach Tomlin is fine with it and accepts responsibility for it.”
By leaving open the possibility of adjusting or taking away draft picks, the NFL is covering its bases in case additional video of the incident surfaces that shows some kind of intent on Tomlin’s part or there is another infraction of a similar nature involving the Steelers.
Clark didn’t pull hide his feelings when told the loss of draft picks remains a possibility.
“That would be stupid,” Clark said. “It’s not supposed to be fair. When has (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell ever been fair?”