(Reuters) - Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has been fined $100,000 for interfering with a kickoff return in last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, the National Football League said on Wednesday.
The penalty is one of three $100,000 fines ever levied on an NFL head coach and pales in comparison to the record $500,000 sanction against New England coach Bill Belichick in 2007 for using videotape to spy on an opposing team’s defensive signals.
In the Thursday night play in question, Tomlin had his back to the action, watching a kickoff return by Jacoby Jones on a giant screen while standing on the edge of the playing field.
The coach, who at one point had one foot on the field, hopped out of the way just in time to avoid a possible collision with Jones during the third quarter of Baltimore’s 22-20 win.
“I take full responsibility for my actions, and 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.”
The Steelers’ organization was not fined for Tomlin’s actions but could still feel a sting from his actions.
Because Tomlin’s conduct affected a play on the field, a modification or forfeiture of choices will also be considered after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined, the NFL said in a statement.
Tomlin, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, told reporters after the Ravens game: ”I always watch the returns on the Jumbotron - it provides a better perspective for me.
“Obviously I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play.”
In speaking to reporters at the Steelers training facilities on Tuesday, Tomlin expressed regret.
“As head coaches we’re held to higher standards of conduct. That blunder fell woefully short and in that vein I accept ... the repercussions of a blunder of that nature,” he said.
“With my position comes preserving the integrity of the game of football.”
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue