It was just a few days ago that I wrote about how Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin‘s issue on the sideline during the Thanksgiving Night game against the Baltimore Ravens was a non issue. Others have written how the NFL‘s punishment should be swift and severe. I was never on board with such logic. After all, the situation had no bearing on the outcome of the football game.
Rumors are swirling now that Tomlin could be facing a six-figure fine and the Steelers organization could be facing a loss of a pick in the upcoming draft.
In my opinion, that is insane. Whether or not Tomlin did or didn’t know what he was doing is something that will likely never be admitted. We all can speculate, but that isn’t concrete evidence of guilt towards the Steelers’ head coach. If the NFL deems that Tomlin’s actions were genuine to the point that he intended to interfere with Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones, then they will come down hard on the Steelers coach.
I can personally say that I wouldn’t be upset if the NFL decided to fine him any amount. The entire situation just seemed too deliberate for the NFL not to see some sort of intent on Tomlin’s part. If the NFL stated that they had decided to suspend Tomlin for one game due to his actions, I wouldn’t be furious over the punishment.
However, when a potential draft pick could be taken away from the organization, that doesn’t sit well with me one bit.
The underlying theme here is that the play that Tomlin reportedly interfered with intentionally had zero bearing on the outcome of the game. It wasn’t as if he ran onto the field and made a shoestring tackle on a return that would have given the Ravens a victory.
If the NFL decides to take a draft pick away for Tomlin’s actions, they are setting a very unhealthy precedent for years to come. At what point would an individual’s actions, be it a coach or a player, be severe enough to hinder an entire organization? Individual players have broken laws, served jail time and even killed people, and the organizations that employed them have not had a punishment as severe as draft picks removed for their actions.
Why would a coach standing on the sideline and possibly interfering with a play be more severe from an individual standpoint?
To me, if the NFL takes away a draft pick, that is stepping well over the line in terms of punishing those that deserved it. The organization had nothing to do with Tomlin’s potential interference on the kick return, so why punish them by hindering their future?
I realize that Tomlin represents the organization, but at the same time when a situation is a fuzzy as this one, should such a harsh punishment be dealt? The obvious answer is no.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz