As the NFL continues to determine what discipline Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin should face for his sideline incident last Thursday night against the Ravens, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino has weighed in on the simmering controversy.
Tomlin should have been penalized for unsportsmanline conduct for nearly colliding with Ravens kicker returner Jacoby Jones during a 73-yard kickoff return, according to Blandino.
Tomlin was adamant during a press conference today that he didn't intentionally interfere with Jones, who slightly altered his path to avoid crashing into the coach as he jumped out of the way at the last possible moment.
"Anytime a player or a coach from the sideline is in this white area, that's a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct," Blandino said during his weekly NFL Network appearance. "If they interfere with the play, it could be what's called a 'palpably unfair act.' In that instance, the referee could basically penalize the team whatever he deems equitable, which could include giving the Ravens a touchdown. That's not the case here, but certainly coach Tomlin was in the white. He should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct."
It's unclear if the officiating crew will be downgraded for their failure to throw a flag on Tomlin despite being in position to see him step onto the field.
Tomlin, who described his actions as an "embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal blunder," is expected to be punished with a six-figure fine. The NFL announced no discipline for Tomlin by Tuesday night.
"I don't know what a just punishment is," Tomlin said. "I'm not nervous about it. My money and wallet is what it is because of football."