The NFL Gets Tomlin Situation Wrong

tomlingoodel

Taking six days to arrive at a decision over Mike Tomlin’s stepping on the field of play/interference in the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Baltimore Ravens game seemed a little long to me, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over a few extra days.  The fining of $100,000?  That is not out of line, but more on that in a moment.  The conditional losing of draft picks based on what happens and how playoff seedings are effected is where the league loses me.

Yesterday I wrote a blog disagreeing with ESPN’s Steven A. Smith on his position about the N.Y. Yankees and whether or not they should overpay Robinson Cano.  Today I am going to whole heartedly agree with him that whatever the league is going to do punishment wise, needs to be done now.

tomlinTomlin, a deserving well-respected coach, made a mistake.  One he deserves to be punished for.  But neither he, nor the Steelers deserve to have this dangle over their heads and be a story for months.  But this goes farther than that, as the league’s position is wrong on other levels as well.

Firstly, I think the taking of a draft pick is not warranted here.  Mike Tomlin acted on his own in the heat of the moment.  There is no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, of organizational misconduct.  This interference is not an example of something that the organization knew about or should have known about.  The latter being just cause to punish the team by taking a draft pick.

And the principle of making the pick or picks forfeited contingent on the ultimate effect it has on Pittsburgh’s playoff positioning is unprecedented.  If we’re going to do that why don’t we suspend players for illegal hits based on how long the opposing player they injure misses games?  And if the injured player’s team misses the playoffs why don’t we take draft picks from them?

Mike Piazza laid out after getting hit in the head by Roger Clemons

Mike Piazza laid out after getting hit in the head by Roger Clemons

Baseball can do the same.  If a pitcher beans an opposing player and he is out for the season, that pitcher is gone for the season.  Intentionally beaning someone with a deadly weapon is a far worse offense that does more to challenge the integrity of the game then stepping on the field.  (And does warrant a stiffer penalty then a free pass to first base, but I digress.)

Do you see what opening this door can do?

But if this is the direction the NFL wanted to go, taking a pick or picks depending on whether or not the four fewer points Baltimore scored affects them getting into the playoffs or their playoff position, the league should have:

A-    As Stephen A. suggests, just awarded Pittsburgh the four points and came down with a definitive punishment.

B-    Establish that if Ravens miss the playoffs because of the missing points, Pittsburgh will lose “X”, or if they get a worse seeding, they will lose “Y”.

C-    If Pittsburgh’s playoff positioning is unaffected by the incident they  lose “Z”.

At least this way, we avoid speculation and everyone knows what is what.

The intention of this fine and punishment is to reprimand Tomlin for a violation and to discourage the act from being done by anyone else again.  I get that.  So let’s look at the fine first:

A hundred K is a decent amount of cheese.  It’s real and more than the run of the mill ten to fifty thousand dollar slap on the wrist.  Okay.  But would it deter a coach from engaging in an act that he felt could help win an important game?  I don’t think so.  So the fine sounds nice, I would have been okay with a 50K fine, but it is appropriate,  however on it’s own, it doesn’t do much for me.

I do think a loss of a high draft pick will serve as deterrence, but as previously stated, I do think this punishment fits this “crime”.

The “just” punishment in this instance would have been a one game suspension.  No need to waste time on trying to figure out intent, (even though Steven A., Skip Bayless and many others think it was intentional), if a coach or any player not on the field of play interferes with a play on the field it should be a 15 yard penalty against that team and an automatic ejection from that game and one game suspension.  Period.  Done. No need for additional fines and histrionics.

Robert Horry gives Steve Nash a cheap shot, drawing Amare Stoudemire off the bench.  Stoudemire doesn't throw a punch but is suspended for a key playoff game.

Robert Horry gives Steve Nash a cheap shot, drawing Amare Stoudemire off the bench. Stoudemire doesn’t throw a punch but is suspended for a key playoff game.

This would be similar to the NBA rule having to do with players leaving the bench during an altercation.  Doesn’t matter if it is just their toe crossing the in-bounds line, if they do it, bam automatic one game suspension.

A fine is one thing, but coaches do not want to miss games.  This would be about a close as a deterrent as losing a draft pick, and a stiff loss of wage from the suspension all rolled up into one.  I doubt we would see this again.  And if it does occur again, it would take six days to come out with an incomplete disciplinary action.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT DO THE LAKERS, HEAT AND KNICKS HAVE IN COMMON?

The talking heads have gone back and forth pontificating about the fortunes of these teams.  Lets start with the Los Angeles Lakers.  The two-time defending champions were being overlooked to start the NBA season, and while many were picking the Miami Heat and their big three to run away with it (Jeff Van Gundy saying 70 WINS was doable), the Lakers got off to a sizzling start and all of a sudden the talking heads were commenting on how under the radar the Lakers were and now many were in their corner citing Kobe Bryant, coach Phil Jackson, their size, experience and chemistry.  But then all of a sudden the Lake show was having a tough time beating winning teams.  Andrew Bynum was recovering slowly from off-season knee surgery and then they had a three game losing streak before the All-Star break including one loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.  The plethora of sports talk shows were all asking the same question: On a scale of one to ten how worried should the Lakers be?  Or my other favorite:  Is it time for the Lakers to panic?  Now, they were not referring to Kobe as the game’s best closer, rather, he was old, Bynum was not healing, Ron Artest was playing uninterested, and the Lakers were done as far a championship this year…   Post all-star break, the Lake show is back!  They’ve won ten out of eleven, Bynum is healthy, Kobe is back as the best closer and Skip Bayless is touting him as an MVP candidate (That is just Skip being Skip, everybody knows it will and should be D. Rose)

The Miami Heat.  To be fair, some did say at the start of the season, that it would take time for Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Chris Bosh and the rest (on Gillighan’s Island) to develop chemistry, and that the Lakers and Boston Celtics should be favorites. Not surprisingly the Heat under performed to their talent to start the season, got hot, got cold and more recently hot again, putting together their most impressive three game winning streak against the Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs.  And presto magic they are all of a sudden a threat to win it all again.  In between, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was thrown under the bus, pulled out, and thrown under again several times. Wade, James and Bosh were questioned and criticized every which way.  James went from not being an MVP candidate, to being one to not being able to close out a game to being great.  For Wade, it was his team, then Lebron’s, and now whispers that he should be an MVP candidate.

You see intellectually people knew there could be growing pains for the Heat, just like they know there are “dog days” in a season for veteran teams like the Lakers, but when the growing pains happen in front of us or a veteran team slumps, for some reason we are shocked by it and way overreact to the good and the bad along the way.

The New York Knicks.  Weren’t suppose to be a good team this year.  They overpaid for Amare Stoudemire, (according to the talking heads).  He and coach D’Antoni didn’t get along in Phoenix (true but that was a forced marriage, here they were both willing going in) and the Knicks didn’t have any other talent to surround Amare with.  Stoudemire winds up exceeding expectations, not only as a player but as a leader as well.  He and D’Antoni are getting along swimmingly and Coach D. does what he always does, and coaches up players getting more out of them then what was thought he could.  But still, the Knicks weren’t going to be players for Carmelo Anthony, because they didn’t have talent to draw interested from Denver.  Well as we all know, Denver had little choice but to deal with the Knicks and they trade Melo and Chauncy Billups to New York.  Billups might have been the most disrespected element of any trade I have ever seen.  Former all-star, former champion, great clutch player currently shooting over forty percent from the three point line but that is besides the point.  The talking heads declared this doesn’t make the Knicks that much better this year but now if they get Chris Paul or Deron Williams  after 2012 then they’ll be a championship team.  So then what happens?  Everybody remembers, oh yeah, Chauncey Billups is pretty good too.  The Knicks upset Miami, Memphis, and all of a sudden their stock rises.  They can beat the Heat in the first round of the playoffs proclaims ESPN’s Michael Wilbon.  But then Billups gets hurt, the Knicks lose a few, the Denver Nuggets win a few and now the Knicks are done, Wilbon retracts his prediction, Mark Cuban and others are saying Denver got the better of the trade.  Never mind that it has taken the Heat almost the whole season to first be getting it together.  Now we got the media holding D’Antoni by the wrists and ankles getting ready to throw him under the bus because a team that was not supposed to compete for a championship under any circumstance, and was to be an underdog if they made the playoffs under any circumstance is going through the same growing pains that we just saw the Heat go through!

Moral of the story?   Dudes!  Chill out!  A pro sports season is a marathon not a sprint.  Patience is a virtue, and there are going to be ups and downs.  Fans beware, many in the media are no smarter than the drunk boob at your local sports bar.  Thank God they don’t actually run or coach a team…

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Can’t wait for the NBA playoffs and the annual this team is done, this same team is great that occurs game to game based on one win or a loss…

Kendick Perkins referred to Pau Gasol as soft?  Yo Kendrick… Pau is an all-star and a key contributor on a two time defending champion… If he is soft then maybe soft isn’t so bad…

Skip Bayless.  The difference between Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose as far as MVP this year, is the consistency of the Bulls play all season, and that Derrick carried the Bulls and played exceptional when key players were out (Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer).  Kobe started looking like Kobe and getting MVP talk only when Bynum was healthy.  Before that the Lakers weren’t playing on a championship level, your criteria for even being considered.