NFL Fines Steelers Coach Tomlin $100,000
Pittsburgh — Here’s another adjective Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin can call his ill-timed two-step onto the field last Thursday night against Baltimore.
The NFL fined Tomlin $100,000 on Wednesday for interfering with Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones on a kickoff return in the third quarter of a 22-20 loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night.
The fine is the second-highest ever levied by the league on a head coach, behind only the $500,000 the NFL docked New England’s Bill Belichick in 2007 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals.
There is also the chance the Steelers have a draft pick taken away “because the conduct affected a play on the field.” Though he was not penalized, the league said the Steelers should have been flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
All that from what Tomlin called an “embarrassing, inexcusable” case of being “mesmerized” while standing in a restricted area that separates the sideline from the playing field and staring at the video board during Jones’ 73-yard return.
Jones had to swerve to avoid running into the coach and was tackled during a return that might have gone for a touchdown if not for the obstruction. Tomlin briefly stepped onto the field before he jumped back.
Tomlin insists the “blunder” was not intentional but has no plans to appeal the ruling.
“I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Tomlin said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
Jones didn’t blame Tomlin for his own inability to score on the return, but his teammates believe the move put the coach and the league in a difficult position.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s tough,” Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “I can’t say he did it on purpose because I don’t know what he was thinking. It definitely sends a message across the league. He stepped across the line, which definitely threw it off.”
Tomlin said he was following his normal routine on the play and said standing on the 6-foot wide strip is common practice.
Investigation of FSU QB Ends
Tallahassee, Fla. — The prosecutor overseeing the investigation of sexual assault allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston said Wednesday that it is completed.
State Attorney Willie Meggs has scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m. today in his office to announce his findings. Meggs said investigators have learned as much as they can about the December 2012 incident.
“We think we have exhausted all investigative tools,” he said.
Winston has led the Seminoles to the No. 1 ranking, and they will play for a conference title Saturday, with a shot at the national crown.
The quarterback also is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, and many voters are waiting to see whether Winston will be charged with a crime before casting their ballots. The deadline for Heisman ballots to be turned in is Dec. 9.
ESPN has previously reported that DNA belonging to Winston was found in the underwear of the accuser. A lawyer for Winston has suggested that the star quarterback and the accuser had consensual sex. But the family of the victim has accused the 19-year-old of rape.
Meggs has said he wanted to make sure prosecutors completed a thorough investigation before making a final decision. He has also said several times that it’s up to prosecutors to determine whether there is a “reasonable” chance of conviction.
A’s Add Pitcher
Oakland, Calif. — Left-hander Scott Kazmir finalized his $22 million, two-year contract with the Athletics.
The two-time defending AL West champions announced the deal Wednesday after Kazmir passed his physical. The addition of Kazmir fills a key rotation spot with a player familiar with the division after his stint for the Los Angeles Angels.
That was before the two-time All-Star was limited to one start in 2011 before going on the disabled list with a lower back strain. The 29-year-old Kazmir then spent the 2012 season with independent Sugar Land before bouncing back to go 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts and 158 innings for Cleveland this year.
Kazmir went 9-15 in 2010 for Los Angeles.