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The Price Tag For Bill Belichick’s Ref-Grabbing: Reportedly $50,000
Earlier today, we detailed the weird ending to last night’s Patriots-Ravens game, complete with a barely-made field goal and Bill Belichick grabbing a referee in a desperate attempt to review the play (a play that, as it turned out, wasn’t actually reviewable). While we didn’t think Belichick was actually trying to perpetrate any kind of physical attack on the ref, and was just trying to get his attention, we were pretty sure that Belichick would face discipline for his actions anyway, since physical contact with referees is generally verboten, and especially in the wake of the NFL issuing a warning for everyone to lay off the officials.
Well, sounds like Belichick will be ponying up. Given the five-figure fines levied against Broncos head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio for the tongue-lashings they gave the replacements last Monday, there was no way the league would let Belichick off scot-free, and according to CBS’ Mike Freeman, the Patriots’ Grand Master can indeed expect to get hit harder than Fox or Del Rio:
Source tells me to expect $50,000 fine for Belichick. Blog: cbsprt.co/Qub2tr
— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) September 24, 2012
That fone would be despite a lengthy explanation of the incident offered by Belichick earlier today, which reads in part:
“By rule, if the ball isn’t over the crossbar, and it’s either inside or outside of the upright, that’s reviewable. If it’s over the crossbar, or over the top of the upright rather, then it’s not reviewable. But I couldn’t tell from my angle when the ball crossed the crossbar where it was. So I didn’t know whether or not that play was going to be under review or whether it wasn’t. So when the game was over, I went out, and I was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether or not the play was under review. I did try to get the official’s attention as he was coming off the field to ask that, but I really wasn’t able to do that.
“I’ve coached in this league a long time and never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials or anything like that. I have never meant any disrespect or in any way tried to abuse or be disrespectful to the officials and the job that they do. I’m trying to get an explanation for obviously an important call, play, in that game. That’s the number one thing between coaches and officials. It’s always at the forefront. It’s just communication of what’s going on, of what’s happening.
This seems believable to us, and Freeman said there’s a chance, however slim, the league will see things the same way. But shouldn’t this not even be about whether or not Belichick’s explanation is believable? Isn’t the issue here not that he had a valid reason for chasing down the ref, but that he made deliberate physical contact with the ref?
Again, we don’t think Belichick was trying to bully anyone here, but we don’t see how that would preclude a fine. And so our guess is it won’t. Belichick is going to get fined, and $50,000 sounds about right. With this incident, Bill Belichick handed Roger Goodell, on a silver platter, a chance to make a statement by coming down hard on one of the biggest names in the league. Is there any way the commissioner passes that up, even if he agrees that Belichick wasn’t lashing out at the official in a rage? Well, nothing’s impossible, but… actually, yeah, Belichick escaping a fine on this one is impossible. He’s paying up no matter what his explanation is.
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