News that NFL was fining Mike Tomlin hardly came as a surprise. The NFL has long fined head coaches for criticizing the officials, long before Roger Goodell brought his Kangaroo Court style of justice to the league.
When reporters questioned Mike Tomlin about the officiating after the Steelers 41-17 win over the Falcons, the Steelers head coach didn’t hold back. After conceding that the two penalties called on Bud Dupree were probably legitimate, Mike Tomlin didn’t mince words:
Some of the other stuff, man, is a joke. We gotta get better as a National Football League. Man, these penalties are costing people games and jobs. We gotta get ‘em correct. So I’m pissed about it, to be quite honest with you.
While he doesn’t mention them directly, Mike Tomlin was referring to the penalties called on Jon Bostic who arrived a second too late after Cam Heyward sacked Matt Ryan, and T.J. Watt who barley made contact with Ryan yet still got the 15 yard flag.
In other words, the NFL is fining Mike Tomlin for telling the truth: The NFL is becoming a joke.
Business Case for Protecting Quarterbacks
Unlike Roger Goodell’s 2010 arbitrary crack down on hits to the head which unfairly targeted Pittsburgh Steelers such as James Harrison and Ryan Clark, controversy about protecting the quarterback is hardly new to Pittsburgh.
While it is hard for a Steelers site to take up for the son of a Cleveland Browns legend, Clay Matthews Jr. got flagged doing nothing other than tackling the quarterback. While traditionalists have cried foul, the NFL’s latest quarterback protection rule has no shortage of apologists.
MMQB’s Andrew Brandt and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Paul Zeise have argued that quarterbacks are a key ingredient to the NFL’s on the field product and that therefore doing what is necessary to keep them in the game is simply a wise business decision.
That line of thinking isn’t new and unlike when Jack Lambert claimed quarterbacks should wear dresses the NFL has a salary cap. So when a quarterback goes down, the NFL is literally seeing money taken off of the field.
Beyond this nerdy, accountantesque line of reasoning, it is also true that allowing passing combos like Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swann or Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown to blossom is good for the game.
- So protecting the quarterback make good business sense, to a point.
- But when these protections begin to alter the essence of the game, they go too far.
And football, at its core, is a game that is meant to be won by those that hit the hardest, as Jack Lambert argued. And the current movement to protect the quarterback is an attempt to alter that reality.
Fantasy football owners might be happy with rules that cause flags fly after Stephon Tuitt barley love taps Andy Dalton a half second after Dalton releases his pass. But those rules water down the essence of the sport, and that will do far more damage to the NFL’s on the field product in the long run.
- The difference between coming out on the right side of the fine line that separates winning and losing in the NFL is often defined by who wins a test of wills.
- That includes the quest to get the quarterback.
If the NFL eliminates that element from the game in the name of coddling quarterbacks, then it will be doing far more damage to its on the field product than whatever damage losing quarterbacks to injury causes.
Mike Tomlin is telling the truth, and because of that he’s $25,000 poorer.