Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seems to be the only person in the universe who believes his conduct against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving was not intentional.
During the third quarter in the Steelers’ 22-20 loss against the Ravens, Pittsburgh had just scored a touchdown to reduce the deficit to 13-7.
On the ensuing kick-off, Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones took possession of the ball and was screaming down the left hand side of the open field narrowly in front of the Steelers chasers.
Jones was totally unaware that Steelers coach Tomlin had edged himself so close to the sideline that he had one foot beyond the white paint and was standing with his back turned to the play on the field – according to Tomlin to innocently watch the Jumbotron screen.
After seeing Tomlin so close to the field of play, Jones had to change the direction of his run and was ultimately tackled by the Steelers after a 73-yard dash.
The one question everyone wants to find the answer to, is if Tomlin was never so negligent to let himself be that close to the sideline would Jones have continued his run and scored a touchdown?
Probably not, but that is not the issue.
After the match ended the Steelers head coach answered questions in his customary post match press conference and vehemently denied his actions were intentional.
“I always watch the returns on the Jumbotron; it provides a better perspective for me. Obviously, I lost my placement as he broke free, and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play,” Tomlin said.
Now watching various replays of the incident it has become clear Tomlin knew exactly where he was because he can undoubtedly be seen peering over his shoulder before Jones ever was near him.
To try and sell the acting display of pleading ignorance, Tomlin jumps out of the way at the last second.
What is far more intriguing is the fact that after the blunder occurred Tomlin then walks back into the Steelers sideline and cheekily smiles – displaying outright intent.
Anyone who says that Tomlin’s actions were not intentional must get their eyes and ears checked.
The expected penalty for Tomlin and the Steelers has been mooted by those around the league as a possible six-figure fine for Tomlin, a separate fine for the team which could be monetary or the loss of a draft pick next season.
There was talk of a suspension for Tomlin but now that seems to be unlikely.
The NFL’s vice president of officiating Dean Blandino speaking on the NFL Network’s NFL Total Access program said referees should have thrown penalty flag in Tomlin’s direction after the play.
“Anytime a player or a coach from the sideline is in this white area, that’s a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct,” Dean Blandino said.
Yesterday Tomlin made an about face turn and offered a sincere apology at the start of his mid-week press conference.
So much so that he spent the first 20 minutes explaining the situation and his actions on the field.
Tomlin described his conduct against the Ravens as ‘embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal and a blunder’.
Which is exactly what they were but nowhere did he explain clearly what led himself to be in that position.
“I can’t be in that space and I was, so I take full responsibility for that. It’s an inexcusable blunder on my part” Tomlin said.
“It’s been shocking to me that my actions could have been perceived or have been perceived in any way as intentional in regard to my action on that play,”
“I would never do such a thing. I would never consider doing such a thing.”
Well unfortunately for you Mike, you did do it and that acting performance in the media conference was Oscar worthy.
You obviously haven’t seen the damning footage which shows you step directly onto the field as Jones is running towards you.
Please leave your players in charge of affecting the play on the field.