Thursday, December 5, 2013

Deliberation Of Penalties On Tomlin, Steelers Is Credibility Issue For NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was fined "$100,000 Wednesday for his actions on the sideline last Thursday in Baltimore" and "because the conduct affected a play on the field, a modification or forfeiture of draft choices will be considered after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined," the NFL said in a statement.

In a statement released by Tomlin, he addressed the penalty this way: "As I stated yesterday, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. 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."

In If It Ain't Steel's last article covering Tomlin's "SidelineGate", I was very clear that I didn't believe anything would happen to the Steelers themselves, i.e. a forfeiture of draft picks. What I said was:

"To honestly believe the NFL will actually take the quantum leap from a fine (knowing their true main objective is money) to taking away a draft pick is as viable as me walking into my closet and walking through it into a land where I find myself conversing with a talking lion." -

So, I was just in Narnia talking with Aslan and...

So, the fact that the Steelers could potentially lose a draft pick (a late-round draft pick is what is speculated) or see their picks somehow "modified" (moved from 17th to 32nd?) in the draft isn't the main issue for me. It's the elongated deliberation of the final decision.

If NFL is going to take or modify a Steelers draft pick, why wait until a later date? Why not simply announce it now and then announce the particulars at a later time? Why does there have to be so much time taken to make this decision? Consider this.

In 2007, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent little time before handing down "SpyGate" fines to the New England Patriots that totaled approximately $750,000 ($500,000 for Bill Belichick, $250,000 for the team) and stripping New England of their first-round draft pick, though they already had a second first rounder that year, for the premeditated and willful video taping of teams for years. How little time? All of 6 days.

For premeditated and willful actions surrounding "BountyGate," the New Orleans Saints suffered a $500,000 fine and the loss of their second-round picks in 2012 and 2013 over that scandal. Sean Payton forfeited the entire 2012 season and his entire 2012 salary. Also, DC Gregg Williams was suspended for the season, GM Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games. It took Goodell just under three weeks to mete out all that punishment.

Yet, for an unintentional and admitted "blunder" Goodell wants to wait as much as four months to decide whether or not draft picks are affected?

Now, because of this elongation, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac has reported that the "Steelers are very upset with the NFL's threat of draft choices in the Mike Tomlin penalty, saying 'there is no precedent for it,' per team source."

And rightly so. As Neal Coolong of Behind The Steel Curtain said recently in a conversation we had, "They haven't taken a pick, they don't have any justification for doing so, it's nothing more than precautionary talk for the rest of the league, and getting it on the record in case, in an extreme hypothetical scenario, Baltimore and Pittsburgh end up at a tie-breaker that is determined by points, they can take action."

Though Coolong is correct, the notion of waiting to see how it affects draft order based on tie-breakers is ridiculous and just as egregious as the "crime" itself. (But, it's Goodell, what else is new?) The NFL's "unforeseen ramifications" response in this case is simply absurd.

The game still could have gone any direction because I firmly believe that Cortez Allen would have caught Jones anyway. Then they say that four points (the difference between a field goal and a touchdown) is an impact on playoffs? Please!

Does anyone truly believe playoff tie-breaker factors ever go that deeply into the process? The tie-breaker factor of points is so low that the only factors following it were the colors of the teams' uniforms and whether Fireman Ed was at the last New York Jets home game. Stop it. The NFL is simply embarrassing itself.

As for those four months referenced earlier, compensatory picks are announced for every team in March and this punishment could be part of that equation. If so, it is then the NFL who is committing a premeditated and willful act.