Posted December 03, 2013

Mike Tomlin swears ‘embarrassing and illegal’ sideline blunder was unintentional

AFC North, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Tomlin would like you to know that his actions were unintentional.

Mike Tomlin would like you to know that his actions were unintentional. (Gail Burton/AP)

There’s been a lot of talk about the on-field move that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made during the kick return from Baltimore Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones during the two teams’ matchup on Thanksgiving night. Tomlin inadvertently stepped on the field from his sideline, and Jones had to break from his path to avoid a collision. Jones returned the kick for a 73-yard gain with 6:26 left in the third quarter of the Ravens’ 22-20 win, but was tackled by defensive back Cortez Allen on the play. Baltimore had to settle for a field goal on the subsequent drive.

During his Tuesday morning press conference, Tomlin opened with a statement that he hoped would put the matter to rest from an integrity perspective.

“I thought I’d break from my normal routine and do what’s appropriate under the circumstances,” he said. “I thought I’d start by outlining the kickoff coverage play from Thursday night, and make a statement regarding my actions and thoughts surrounding that, and then provide you guys with the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

“My descriptions of my actions on that play are a lot of things — embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal, a blunder, being many of the things I’d use to describe it. I take full responsibility for my actions on that play. I acknowledge that my actions unfortunately became part of the play. I also embrace that as head coaches, we’re held to the highest standards of conduct, and I realize that that blunder fell woefully short of that expectation. In that vein, I embrace the responsibilities that come with my position, and understand the repercussions from a blunder of that nature. I also understand that with my position comes  the charge of preserving and protecting the integrity of the game of football. My biggest error was not realizing that that play jeopardized the integrity of the game from a perception standpoint.”

Tomlin went on at length, trying his best to contradict any inference that he was on the field intentionally. The NFL has been looking into the incident and has not brought penalties against Tomlin and the Steelers, but reports indicate that the team could be docked draft picks, and Tomlin could face a heavy fine.

To his credit, Tomlin also addressed the jokes that have been made at his expense.

“I did see the Soul Train picture. That was interesting,” Tomlin said. “I’ve heard all the jokes. And I’ve got it coming.”

If you haven’t seen the Soul Train picture in question, it’s a Photoshop from a gentleman who goes by the Twitter handle ” @MackDaddyWayne,” and it’s pretty glorious.

Last Friday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said that Tomlin isn’t the only head coach ever to be on the wrong side of the sideline.

“Yeah, I’ve been blown up a couple times. There’s one play in particular where I was kind of watching the pass rush of the front and the ball was thrown. I didn’t really follow the ball that quickly and all the sudden the guy caught it and was right on top of me and [I] ended up under the Gatorade bench. Obviously if you’re watching the ball, it shouldn’t be that big of a problem. But if you’re trying to watch something else … Obviously we have to give the officials and the players room to play. Sometimes that just happens where you get guys caught up a little bit on the sideline. But yeah, I saw the play last night. I was like, ‘Oh my God, yeah.’ That could easily happen to any of us. It’s a good lesson, I have to be careful.”

At least Tomlin missed the Gatorade bench, but he’s going to face some heat from the league sooner or later.

57 comments
DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

Good thing the folks posting here don't work for the NFL decision makers.  It would be fairer to be a gladiator waiting for the thumbs up or down during Roman empire.  A few comments are objective.  As much as some folks don't respect or like Tomlin, he is likely smart enough to know the cameras will be pointing at him when a player is zooming by.  Jones had the decency not to hit him.  Ref should have called it, and added 15 yards, or even an automatic touchdown.  Tomlin accepts the fine, and is preparing for Miami.  He is a great coach.  Steelers have done well under him.  If he moves on, change will likely show his talent with another team.  Be objective.

amorosotom
amorosotom

Tomlin should apologize to the ref  who missed the infraction.He is  going to get downgraded. Miss play off money. Kind of boneheaded that the ref that was standing so close to the infraction didn't throw a flag. 

rocknitout
rocknitout

I think Coach Tomlin has always been a stand-up guy, and he's not shown me any reason in the past to think he's dirty or would do that intentionally. He gets a complete pass from me on this. Give him his fine, NFL, and move on.

Bottom of the Pile
Bottom of the Pile

The "SMIRK" from Tomlin came .not as a result of the play,but was due to the Ravens fans chanting a profanity at him after seeing repeated replays at the stadium.The smirk is taken out of context.Also the league is taking into consideration that they have been shown  proof documented that Tomlin has frequently done the same(stand near the sideline and watch plays on the Jumbtron) on repeated occasions.

gmag39
gmag39

People, people... this ain't the 'end of the World as we know it'.  Let the league deal with it and MOVE ON.  In the heat of the moment, we ALL do things at one time or another that we're embarrassed about later.  Tomlin messed up, yeah.  Was it the 'most egregious thing ever' in the annals of the NFL or sports or coaching?  Not even close.  LET IT GO.  

jason g1
jason g1

What a liar... He knew what he was doing. He had that stupid smirk on his face after the play and he even got caught by the cameras standing on the sideline looking towards the play. I say suspend him for a few games and give him a big fine. This was childish all the way

Sashhenka1
Sashhenka1

Maybe the coach's film is different. I don't get to watch that. I did see the incident live on TV - and the replays. I'm noit a professional observer but even so Tomlin is concentrating on the videotron and jumps aside as the runner approaches. It is clear that the runner had to adjust to avoid Tomlin.

The damning shot was of Tomlin smirking immediately following the tackle. Nothing could be clearer in that smirk than 'mission accomplished.'    

SC1
SC1

We will get these "scamps" off the field and out of the field of play ... PERIOD.

SC1
SC1

and if a coach/staff member violates the field a second time (even if that individual was not the one who was identified in the first violation) ... automatic EJECTION ... and any such person(s) should be subject to further penalties by the league ... first or second penalty ...

Dumptruck
Dumptruck

As a die-hard Raider fan that still remembers the chest pains I got when the Immaculate Reception happened, I could take the "high road" and say it was intentional. But I am not. I have a great deal of respect for Mike and think he basically "Gumped" this unintentionally. He should get fined, and that should be the end of it. But, if the Steelers had won, I'd be the first one to say fine him, suspend him, and take away AT LEAST one draft pick because it directly influenced the outcome of the game. But at the end of the game, it didn't- the surprising Dolphin's bagged another win and the Steelers continue their death spiral.

AZPurdue
AZPurdue

Tomlin will get off easy. The league office adores and coddles the Steelers.

Matthew W
Matthew W

At the end of the day, the Steelers still lost.

With as poorly as the team has done this year, Tomlin's poor drafts, aging and decreasingly talented team, and slow descent from top of the division to not so much.....Tomlin better hope this isn't one of the last nails in his coffin. 

The team has gotten steadily worse and Cowher's players & intensity are gone. Its the all Tomlin show and Rapistburger isn't 25 anymore.

sldghammer
sldghammer

the rumour of losing a draft pick is laughable

sldghammer
sldghammer

whining bittsches everywhere are embarrassed by comments below

NEsports27
NEsports27

Man up and come clean the way Jason Kidd did

Kalzy
Kalzy

This buffoon is as overrated as the day is long. If he popped off with the the verb "Blunder" one more time I was going to lose it. This was a spot on crime of passion. Shameful junk.

WolfgangGoethe
WolfgangGoethe

Anything less that forfeiture of picks will not rise to the level of punishment for interfering with the game.  A fine, even a heavy fine, can be worth determining the course of play in certain games. 

ngk11
ngk11

Cant be any more embarrassing than having a rapist for a QB and face of the franchise

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Intentional. We all know it was intentional. And Goodell has to come down hard. Maybe not a draft pick, although as a ravens fan I would like to see that, but a heavy fine and a warning that the next guy that does it gets suspended.

PritchBomb
PritchBomb

What an embarassment to his team. They should suspend him, fine him, and smack him upside his head.

Beachgrad05
Beachgrad05

I saw the video that shows him standing further from field watching jumbotron and then takes a giant step sideways toward field as Jones starts up sideline behind him....that step to me was not a mistake it was intentional as it was not necessary to see the jumbotron but was necessary to obstruct play

clu
clu

Solution - 15 yard penalty for stepping on the white without a red flag thrown.  Second penalty results in an ejection, players and coaches alike.

wino69
wino69

Where's that sh** eating grin now?  Tomlin is a punk & now a liar.  Fine him till he cries & then make the team sorry that he's their coach.  Steelers suck & they always will.

HarshRealities
HarshRealities

IT is a good thing that the Ravens won the game. Can you imagine the outrage if the Steelers had won the game by 1 point. Tomlin may very well have kept Jacoby Jones from scoring a TD on the return. The Ravens had to settle for a FG.

Jean
Jean

He bees black so he expects a pass. The idiotic grin on he face says it all.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

sure it was unintentional. EVERY coach watches the jumbo tron and has his back to the players coming at him. kinda liked him but now his kind looks like the other black fool lying in DC

HalverSmith
HalverSmith

He's a flat out liar and that's the most embarrassing thing of all.

George
George

"unintentional" ... 

Yeah, that's why he had that $#^t-eating grin on his face right afterwards.

There's only one way to lose a job with the Rooneys - and that is to embarrass the organization - which is what the jerk did.

SUSPEND and fine his @$$


espnrefugee0218
espnrefugee0218

Jacoby Jones should have "accidentally" FLATTENED him. 

You wanna step on the field...see what can happen

eric20131
eric20131

Why was he looking the other way completely? The play was entirely behind him.

Dumptruck
Dumptruck

correction: Ravens bagged another win....

amorosotom
amorosotom

@Matthew W Tomlin is an average coach at best. Shows real timidity when punting on 37 yard line. I would fire him for that alone. Steelers have a hard time changing coaches. Loyal to a coach to a fault. 

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@NEsports27 Kidd had no choice but to come clean, the Tomlin situation doesn't look as deliberate.

28AllDay
28AllDay

@Kalzy you just blundered. Tomlin was using "blunder" as a noun rather than a verb! Blundering blunder blundered blunderly.

amorosotom
amorosotom

@ngk11 How about the Ravens  have the face of the franchise being a murderer and have 3 kids from three different women. It has always been thus: the stars, the rich and the good looking get the breaks in life. The poor,clumsy and ugly get the sh*t end of the stick.

Cool
Cool

@wino69 Most people who realize they really messed up or got caught doing something stupid, will have that kind of  grin on their face.  It doesn't indicate he did it on purpose, it indicates he knew it was a blunder.  Have you ever tripped on something and then looked around with a grin just hoping no one saw it, and then you see someone looking at you and pointing.. all you can do is give that grin.

Terry
Terry

@Jean 

You and the clown posting under you are virulent racists who have no place on this website.

I am petitioning SI.com to go to a Facebook type of forum so that you roaches will scurry away when the light is shined on your dark world.

clu
clu

@espnrefugee0218 You can be sure the next coach anywhere near Jones on a sideline during a play won't be dodging no matter how fast he is.

abosst1
abosst1

@eric20131 He was watching the play on the big screen. You can see him looking up, and seeing himself on the screen before he moves.

jason g1
jason g1

@HerschelAnderton @jason g1 Not biased.. Coaches know better than to stand along the sideline. There was no reason to watch it on the jumbo-tron when the play is happening right in front of your face. He knew what he was doing and know he is paying for it. Bet he won't do it again and if they lose a draft pick and I was the Steelers owner I would fire him. He cost the organization.