PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin, via a statement, said he is finished talking about the sideline interference that resulted in a $100,000 fine. Here are a couple of thoughts before moving on to other things, oh say the first of four must-win games the Pittsburgh Steelers play Sunday at Heinz Field:
The notion that this incident could be a distraction in the Steelers’ locker room is laughable. Player reaction to the fine was generally muted aside from Ryan Clark taking a few jabs at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, something the veteran safety never hesitates to do. If the Steelers lose to the Dolphins on Sunday it won’t be because Ben Roethlisberger is worried about the Steelers possibly losing a draft pick as part of the Tomlin punishment.
Is Tomlin on probation for the rest of the season or does the NFL really believe his interference on Jacoby Jones' kickoff return could affect one of the playoff tiebreakers? Either way it’s still hard to fathom why the punishment is open ended.
Do I understand why some people still think there was intent on Tomlin’s part? Yes. Do I think he did it intentionally? No. Tomlin, simply put, is not that stupid. And as tone deaf as he might have been in the days that followed the incident he answered all questions about it with the kind of transparency that is usually absent from his weekly news conferences. If he lied during the 20 minutes of his presser that was devoted to his sideline footwork then the man deserves an Oscar.