Mike Tomlin calls sideline move “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal”


Mike Tomlin made a point to apologize ahead of whatever punishment the NFL is going to hand down. (Gail Burton / AP)

At some point, perhaps as early as today, Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin will learn what sort of punishment he will receive from the NFL for his Thanksgiving night sashay onto the field, into the path of the Baltimore Ravens’ Jacoby Jones.

On Tuesday, he got out ahead of the pain train, telling reporters that his “blunder” was “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal.” Tomlin realized that more was expected from him, particularly as a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee, and said he would “take [his] medicine” from the league.

“As head coaches, we’re held to higher standards of conduct, and that blunder fell woefully short and in that vein I accept … the repercussions of a blunder of that nature,” Tomlin said. “I embrace it. With my position comes preserving the integrity of the game of football.”

There has been no indication of just what the fine will be, as new videos from fresh angles emerge daily. He can expect an enormous fine, the Steelers may be docked as well and the team faces the slim prospect of losing a draft pick. Four NFL coaches have been fined in six figures for transgressions in the past, with New England’s Bill Belichick getting the heftiest fine ($500,000) for Spygate in 2007.


Tomlin said he had spoken with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as Ray Anderson, NFL vice president of football operations, and Merton Hanks, a vice president of operations. He said they told him that they’d found other images of him watching kickoff returns on the JumboTron, with his back to the play as he stood on the wide verboten white sideline stripe. That may work in his favor, but the fact that the league sent a memo to coaches on Thanksgiving Eve, warning them about standing in the white area, will not.

“I will take this unfortunate incident — this blunder on my part — and in doing so, I will honor to stand up and champion our game, and in particular, the National Football League, and the integrity of that,” Tomlin added. “It’s all that I have professionally. It’s been very good to me in my life, and to be honest with you, quite frankly, the winning of any game is not important enough for me to jeopardize that.”

In the days since Thanksgiving, Tomlin has become an internet sensation, another part of the “medicine” he thinks he deserves.

“I did see the ‘Soul Train’ picture. That was interesting,” Tomlin, who grinned immediately after his misstep Thanksgiving, said. “I’ve heard all the jokes and I’ve got it coming.”

https://twitter.com/TerezOwens/status/406502451911475201/photo/1

H/T CBS Sports for the GIF

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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Kelyn Soong · December 3, 2013

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