NFL

Bill Belichick: NFL Should Fine Coach for Grabbing Referee

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 23:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots yells at an official following an offensive interference penalty against the Patriots in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIISeptember 24, 2012

Following the New England Patriots' last-second loss to the Baltimore Ravens, an irate Bill Belichick grabbed a replacement official's arm as the referee tried to make his way off the field.

The referees had made numerous questionable calls on the night, including a 27-yard pass interference call that brought the Ravens to the Patriots' 7-yard line on the final drive of the game.

Belichick lost his cool after what appeared to be a controversial call at first glance. As time expired, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker barely (just barely) kept the ball inside the right upright from a mere 27 yards out.

The ball made it through the uprights by the slimmest of margins, but that probably wasn't as clear from Belichick's vantage point.

Future Hall of Fame coaches should not be accosting referees, and Belichick needs to be fined by Roger Goodell and the NFL for his inexcusable act.

No matter what happens over the course of a game—no matter what speculative calls are made—a head coach should not be coming into physical contact with an official. Not to mention Belichick looked like he was about to lay the smackdown on a guy who was probably coaching high school football a month ago.

While there has been no word from the league, a fine seems all but definite.

Throughout Belichick's career, there haven't been many instances that are comparable to what he did on Sunday night, which is why he shouldn't garner a suspension for his transgression.

This is a problem that the NFL has contributed to by locking out its regular officials, and while Belichick crossed the line at M&T Bank Stadium, it wouldn't be right to force him to miss a game or two.

Belichick may have the whole "Spygate" incident hovering over his head, but his conduct with officials has never been a reason for the disdain that many football fans feel for the enigmatic head coach.

While the three-time Super Bowl-winning coach made himself look foolish and unprofessional, all he wanted was an explanation. In all likelihood, a regular referee would have been happy to stay an extra 30 seconds and provide him with one, but this replacement official was more focused on avoiding another verbal beatdown.

Somewhere, Goodell is fuming, chomping at the bit to contact Belichick after what was yet another sloppy game by the replacement refs. He must act accordingly, though, and take into account all of the extenuating circumstances surrounding what has become a real problem.

If the replacement referees don't gain the respect of the players and coaches, or if the league and the regular referees can't come to a hasty agreement, it is going to be one ugly year of football.

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