Mike Tomlin called it a “blunder” and said he would “never do such a thing” intentionally.
Nonetheless the NFL fined the Pittsburgh Steelers coach $100,000 on Wednesday for stepping onto the field during a Thanksgiving game and disrupting the kickoff return of Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones, a stern rebuke of a coach who, the NFL’s head of officiating concedes, should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play. That did not happen.
The Ravens wound up winning the game, 22-20.
In addition, the league said it will consider a modification or forfeiture of draft choices because the conduct affected a play on the field. That decision will be made after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined.
During his regular Tuesday news conference, Tomlin discussed the situation at length.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said. “I understand there are repercussions that come with a blunder of that nature. With my position comes the charge of preserving and protecting the integrity of football.
“That play jeopardized the integrity of the NFL from a competition standpoint. That's a mistake on my part. I was focused on the blunder itself and the embarrassment it produced. As a head coach in this league we are held to a higher standard of conduct. Based on that, my actions were below the line.”
After the league announced the fine, Tomlin released a statement through the Steelers: “As I stated yesterday, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. 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.”
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