- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The NFL came down hard on New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday. Belichick was fined $50,000 for what the league deemed "impermissible physical contact with an official."
Although I'm probably in the minority, I think this fine was excessive. Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan verbally berated an official and received a $25,000 fine. Is what Belichick did worth twice the penalty?
Belichick's arm grab of replacement official Esteban Garza took all of one second. It was actually a pretty weak attempt, as Garza quickly pulled his arm away from Belichick and continued with his jog into the tunnel. Belichick said he only wanted an explanation of whether the Baltimore Ravens’ game-winning field goal was reviewable.
The biggest issue is respect. Would Belichick have grabbed a real NFL official in the same way he did the substitute? Probably not. The lack of respect probably had a lot to do with the amount of the fine. But verbally bashing an official showed a similar lack for authority. Shanahan, Denver Broncos coach John Fox ($30,000) and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio ($25,000) were all guilty of that this week.
Belichick deserved to be fined. I just don't think he deserved twice the fine of Shanahan and Del Rio. A $35,000-$40,000 fine would have sufficed.
Overall, the biggest lesson to be learned is the expected return of NFL refs will raise the respect level between coaches and officials.