By Aaron Wilson The Baltimore Sun
Striking a contrite tone, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin took accountability for the Thanksgiving night sideline incident against the Ravens in which he nearly collided with kick returner Jacoby Jones.
During a news conference in Pittsburgh televised live on NFL Network, Tomlin characterized his actions an “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal blunder.”
Tomlin, who’s expected to be heavily fined by the NFL, perhaps as high as six-figures, denied that he intentionally stepped onto the field into Jones’ path on a 73-yard kickoff return during the Ravens’ 22-20 win at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It’s been shocking that my actions have been perceived as intentional,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin said he doesn’t know what punishment he faces after speaking to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and league executives Ray Anderson and Merton Hanks. He said he has no sense for whether he would be the only one punished, but he expressed hope that the Steelers organization won’t be because of his actions.
“I don’t know what a just punishment is,” Tomlin said. “I’m not nervous about it. My money and wallet is what it is because of football.”
Tomlin said he hasn’t spoken to the Ravens and doesn’t believe they would think he would intentionally interfere with a play.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the team has moved on from the incident, saying: “It’s in the league’s hands.”
Tomlin said he noticed that he was in Jones’ way when he saw himself on the Jumbotron and looked over his shoulder.
“My actions on that play are embarrassing,” Tomlin said. “I take full responsibility for my actions. I understand there are repercussions that come with a blunder of that nature. With my position comes the charge of preserving and protecting the integrity of football.
“That play jeopardized the integrity of the NFL from a competition standpoint. That’s a mistake on my part. I was focused on the blunder itself and the embarrassment it produced. As a head coach in this league we are held to a higher standard of conduct. Based on that, my actions were below the line.”