NFL makes right call in sideline incident

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
4:05
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- The NFL has quietly closed the book on one of the more controversial chapters of the storied Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens rivalry.

It did so without overstepping its bounds and further punishing the Steelers for Mike Tomlin stepping onto the field and disrupting a Jacoby Jones kickoff return that could have resulted in a touchdown.

The lengthy mea culpa that Tomlin offered -- albeit a little late because he didn’t initially realize the controversy his right foot had ignited -- couldn't have hurt convincing the NFL that a $100,000 fine was punishment enough.

Also, the play in which the Ravens settled for a field goal instead of a touchdown did not change the outcome of the game. Nor did it factor into any postseason tiebreakers.

Above all, it’s hard to believe there was any intent on Tomlin’s part. The man is ultra-competitive but he is not stupid.

No way would he have intentionally interfered during a game that played out on national TV and think he could get away with it. I'd also like to think that sportsmanship would have ever prevented him from even pondering such a thing.

Tomlin's negligence by watching the play unfold on the Jumbotron with his back to it -- and losing track of here he was on the Steelers’ sidelines – resulted in a hit to his checkbook and reputation.

It presumably also led to a stern warning from the NFL to not let something like that happen again or else.

That NFL was right in deciding that the punishment should end there.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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