Wake me up when Goodell and NFL get it right with “Sideline-Gate”

December 02, 2013 | Drew Forrester

Our very own Thyrl Nelson beat me to it with THIS WELL-WRITTEN PIECE at WNST.net, so I’ll bow to him as being “first in” on the topic of whether or not the NFL is overreacting on “Sideline-Gate”.

Thyrl is right.

This is a major overreaction on the part of Roger Goodell and the NFL if, in fact, it turns out they take away a draft pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers as a result of Mike Tomlin stepping on the field during last Thursday’s game.

Fine? Sure. Make it $100,000 and give the money to the Orioles so they can sign a real baseball player.

Suspension?  OK.  Probably wouldn’t be that crazy to tell Tomlin to take a seat for a game or two.

Take away a draft pick?  Absolutely not.

Hell, why not just send him to jail for six months?  That’ll teach him.

The problem in Baltimore — as I see it, personally — is that this whole fiasco involves the Steelers.  As Thyrl noted, we’re all conditioned here in Charm City to hate all things Pittsburgh, so when something like what happened on Thursday takes place and it involves the Steelers, we’re foaming at the mouth before the clock strikes midnight.

If that would have been (I’m completely blanking out here…who DOES coach the Browns?) Rob Chudzinski on Thursday night, we wouldn’t give a flying-eff about it.  And you know that’s true, so please don’t tell me “yes we would!”.

I know this: If “Sideline-Gate” would have happened in yesterday’s Buffalo-Atlanta game, no one would care.  It would be a footnote on Deadspin…and that’s about it.

This was about the game being on national TV, Thursday night, Thanksgiving, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh, etc.

My contention since the whole thing happened hasn’t changed at all.  What Tomlin did on Thursday night didn’t affect the outcome of the game.  And, while most of us (me, for sure) believe his side-step to the right was an intentional motion to try and disrupt Jacoby Jones’ path down the sideline, I also have to admit – for sure – that we really don’t know the truth.  We can only suspect.

I’ll reiterate one more time — what Mike Tomlin did was wrong.  It obviously SHOULD have been penalized on the spot.  It should result in some sort of penalty once the league has come up with all the facts as they see them.  But, that penalty should be consistent with any other penalty that comes with an infraction that DIDN’T CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME.

Yes, Tomlin’s move on Thursday night COULD have changed the outcome, sure.  And, so could poisoning the other team’s sports drink.  What would the penalty be, let’s say, if two equipment managers for (team X) were caught on camera or hidden mic discussing poisoning the other team’s sports drink during halftime — only to have it confirmed later on that it didn’t actually happen?

There’s a huge difference between something that COULD have changed the outcome of the game and something that actually DID change the outcome.

Oh, and please don’t talk to me about gambling and the point-spread and all of that other stuff.  The league itself is only concerned with the result of the football game.  Only us degenerate gamblers are worried about the “final score” of the game.

By the way, where’s the outrage from the league and fans on the referee crew from Thursday night?  Talk about “influencing the outcome”…what were those clowns watching as Tomlin pulled his silly stunt?  No flag?  Nothing?  Useless…all of them.

The refs SHOULD have gathered after Jacoby Jones was tackled and said to themselves, “OK, let’s make sure we handle this right. The rules allow for us to grant Baltimore a touchdown.  And we can also kick Tomlin out of the game if we feel it was that egregious.”

They then could have made a decision based on the rule book.  And, if they WOULD have granted Baltimore a TD (possibly fair) and kicked Tomlin out of the game (possibly fair), the whole thing wouldn’t be an issue of this magnitude five days later.

The NFL has done a GREAT job of making the fans forget that their referee crew COMPLETELY botched the events of Thursday night.

So, Thryl, congratulations on beating me to the punch.

You’re right, this talk about taking away a draft pick from the Steelers is insanely out-of-bounds.

11 Comments For This Post

  1. Kolo Jezdec Says:

    Fine him $100,000 and use it to start mandatory classes for game officials who apparently are not aware of some of the rules of the game.

  2. The Armchair QB Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Tomlin is on the Competition Committee and deserves to be held to an even HIGHER standard of conduct! So, it’s hardly an overreaction from that perspective alone! And, if they really want to get it right, they can fire the Side Judge who, arguably, cannot see well enough to officiate games! No place in sports for such blatant rule infractions by coaches and officials…..

  3. lakerboy Says:

    Drew…The problem with the Tomlin situation is that unless the league takes stern punitive measures, some other knucklehead NFL coach may take a similar tact in some future contest. And you’re right the Tomlin play did not change the outcome of the game, but it very well could have. As I recall the Ravens wound up settling for a field goal on the drive instead of possibly a touchdown. How many Raven-Steeler games are settled by three points? As I correctly recall…numerous! So, every point is a precious commodity.

    I don’t believe that Tomlin’s actions were pre-meditated. What he saw was essentially a “window of opportunity” to prevent Jones from scoring. And it worked. His action didn’t even elicit a penalty.

    The league should fine Tomlin and take a low round draft choice away, to send a clear message that shenanigins of this type will not be tolerated. The NFL is not the WWE, and Mike Tomlin is not Paul Heyman. Let’s keep it that way.

  4. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    Like I said Friday, Tomlin knew exactly what he was doing & should receive a hefty fine & that’s enough. The O’s spending 100,000 on a real ballplayer, good luck with that. Angelos would take 75,000 & put it in his pocket & 25,000 towards a has-been player !!!

  5. GilFromPerryHall Says:

    Taking a draft pick drastically affects the team’s long term outlook for a momentary lapse in judgment (intended or inadvertent). However I am in agreement with The Armchair QB that his position as Head Coach and being on the league Competition Committee requires he be held to a higher standard of conduct than others.

    My assessment is the fine should be for $250K (given that a lowly Jets assistant was fined $100K) and one game suspension (to convey the gravity of concern).

    I surmise, as you do, that there was intent in his actions. My conclusions come from a review of his motion that centers on his transition from looking at the screen to his over the shoulder awareness that Jacoby was nearing.

    But intent or not, I believe a fine AND suspension is an appropriate punishment to serve as a deterrent for teams that want to push the boundary of competition or that display game time operations ineptitude that COULD affect game results.

  6. unitastoberry Says:

    Whatever the league does Tomlin is a clown now for his actions and so are the NFL refs who did that game.

  7. Jason Manelli Says:

    Richie Incoginito should be writing Tomlin a nice thank you note.

  8. Eric Says:

    I just wish that Jacoby could have had the foresight to run into Tomlin, if indeed that was possible. Clearly, the refs would have had to consider a penalty and possibly awarding a TD to the Ravens. Although with the referees we see today, that might not have happened.

  9. jeff wells Says:

    Drew, Why do you have a comment section if you spend a quarter of your piece telling us what not to write? Wait, I think I already know. Because you can!

  10. BK Says:

    Not sure how I feel about taking away a draft pick, but I certainly would not find it egregious if they did. You do know that the league sent out a video on WEDNESDAY, the day before the game, telling all coaches to get the hell off of the sidelines and one day later Tomlin spit in the face of the NFL and did this anyway? Intent or not, he knew and was reminded less than 24 hours prior to the game to not be there no matter what.

    Also, I completely disagree with you as you always try to tell other people how to think and feel, that we would completely care less if it was the Browns we played and that happened. That is just another idiotic statement on your part and maybe one day you will learn to stop telling fans what they should and can think! That is not your place to do so. Yes, we would care, especially since Baltimore has this complex about always getting screwed by the refs and the NFL. We may not have over-reacted as many did and continue to harp on it, but we certainly would have cared, wondered why no flag was thrown, and would have been eager to see what the NFL did. Far cry from not giving an eff about it.

  11. David Says:

    So lets review. Patriots get caught cheating and spying on opponents. Belichick fined 500,000, the Patriots fined 250,000 and stripped of their first round draft pick in the 08 draft. They would have lost the 2nd and 3rd round picks if they failed to make the playoffs. The Saints ran a bounty program and were fined 500,000, Sean Payton was suspended for a year, and stripped of their 2nd round pick in 2012 because they traded away the pick to the Patriots. They also lost a 2nd round pick in 2013 as result of this. So we have a team that cheated and lost draft picks and a team that was trying to take players out of the league and lost draft picks. I am missing the connection to what Tomlin did that is on the same level as these 2 where draft picks were stripped. I totally agree that if this was any other team but the Steelers the Ravens fan base would not care as much. Remember if you live in Baltimore you hate all things Pittsburgh and that is mostly because they are the same city as us and you never truly love yourself.

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