When Mike Tomlin stepped on the field and got caught for sideline interference in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Thanksgiving night matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, there was mention of a potential fine… and a loss of a draft pick. Tomlin handled the situation pretty well, taking full blame and not self-mutilating despite the flood of hilarious memes. Then, he was hit with a $100,000 fine. And as we all know, while nobody likes losing money, Tomlin is rich enough to handle this. It’s an expensive-sounding slap on the wrist.
But the NFL did in fact wind up snagging a Steelers draft pick, too, according to CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora. That’s like a snap of the wrist, or something.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will in fact end up losing a late-round draft pick for coach Mike Tomlin’s actions on the sidelines Thanksgiving night, according to league sources. The NFL is not finalizing that decision until the spring, after all compensatory picks are sent…
So… which pick do they lose?
The NFL did not stipulate the exact nature of the draft-pick penalty because in its mind this remains an open case. Tomlin’s actions could have precluded the Ravens from scoring four more points than they did, and points scored can be a possible playoff tiebreaker. So the NFL does not know the full scope of the ramifications of Tomlin’s actions, nor does it know the full-range of Pittsburgh’s draft picks as compensatory picks, for instance, are not even awarded until the NFL’s annual spring meeting. So until the league has all of the information available, no decision will be announced.
Oh. Well, that’s incredibly dumb. What the league apparently is saying, is they don’t know how bad the violation was… because it could turn out affecting a playoff tiebreaker. Why the hell does that matter? This isn’t waiting to see if a victim of attempted murder dies… it’s football. The penalty should correspond with the action, not indeterminate consequences way after the fact. If the Steelers deserve to lose a certain pick if this somehow keeps the Ravens out of the playoffs, then they deserve to lose it now, regardless of what happens. This would be like flagging a guy for a helmet-to-helmet hit, then waiting 20 years to see if he struggles in his daily life… and then hitting him with a massive fine, instead of a normal one right away.
But, yeah. Hopefully it’s just a late-round pick, because losing an early rounder is an absolute dagger. The NHL took a first-round pick away from the New Jersey Devils for signing a guy to a sketchy contract (something that virtually every other team did), and that was bullshit. I’m no Steelers fan, but you can’t ruin a team’s future for one boneheaded act.
Be gentle, Roger Goodell. (I’m sure his wife asks him the same thing. I’m sure he never obliges.)