PITTSBURGH — Here’s another adjective Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin can call his ill-timed two-step onto the field last Thursday night against Baltimore.
The NFL fined Tomlin $100,000 on Wednesday for interfering with Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones on a kickoff return in the third quarter of a 22-20 loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night.
The fine is the second-highest ever levied by the league on a head coach, behind only the $500,000 the NFL docked New England’s Bill Belichick in 2007 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals.
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There is also the chance the Steelers will have a draft pick taken away “because the conduct affected a play on the field.” Though he was not penalized, the league said the Steelers should have been flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
All that from what Tomlin called an “embarrassing, inexcusable” case of being “mesmerized” while standing in a restricted area that separates the sideline from the playing field and staring at the video board during Jones’ 73-yard return.
Jones had to swerve to avoid running into the coach and was tackled during a return that might have gone for a touchdown if not for the obstruction. Tomlin briefly stepped onto the field before he jumped back.
Tomlin insists the “blunder” was not intentional but has no plans to appeal.
“I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Tomlin said in a statement. “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.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers would rather not let the “Will he-or-won’t he” questions linger until Sunday. The Packers’ franchise quarterback expects a decision Friday — Saturday tops — on whether he will be medically cleared to face the Atlanta Falcons in a game crucial to the team’s dwindling playoff prospects.
If he can’t go, Matt Flynn is back in again. Rodgers doesn’t want his backup waiting until game time to learn that he’s the starter.
• Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has four quarterbacks. He just doesn’t know which one of them will start Sunday at New England. With Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell both recovering from concussions, and two new quarterbacks on the roster, Chudzinski said he will wait until later in the week — and maybe up until game time — to pick a starter. The Browns signed Caleb Hanie and Alex Tanney.
• Matt Cassel is on track to start this week at quarterback for the Vikings, with Christian Ponder recovering from a concussion.
• Witnesses at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday saw a tailgater pummel a man who had apparently climbed into the wrong vehicle, the Kansas City Star reported. After the beating, the tailgater and his friends went back to their vehicles to continue watching the Chiefs’ game on a television. But when a bystander noticed the man was no longer breathing and summoned police, the tailgater fled the stadium. The man died. Police are investigating it as a homicide.