Bill Belichick deserves to be in big trouble.
The New England Patriots head coach was so irate after his team’s 31-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night that he ran up to one of the replacement referees and grabbed him to voice his displeasure.
Whatever the intentions of the contact, coaches are not allowed to touch an official, period.
To make matters worse, the league released an official statement to all NFL teams talking about the poor treatment of the replacements and how those actions wouldn’t be tolerated, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
What should Bill Belichick's punishment be?
For the officials’ sake, the NFL must send a message to Belichick that his actions are not acceptable.
Steve Wyche of NFL Network said on the station’s postgame show that an investigation was forthcoming, but there is already a precedent in this case. According to the Seattle Times from October 4, 1995, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher was fined $7,500 for contacting a referee while stuffing a photo of the botched call in the official's pocket.
The major difference here is that Belichick was just warned about the treatment of the replacement referees prior to the games this week. There is no excuse for ignorance to the rule now.
While there is no question that the legendary head coach should get a substantial fine, the calls for a suspension are ridiculous. As you can see in the video, Belichick is looking for an explanation as the referee runs past him and ignores his question.
That is not justification for the incident, but just as an umpire in baseball can bait a manager into getting tossed out of a game, this referee appears to ignore the head coach who deserves a response.
Using the handy inflation tool from the United States Department of Labor’s website and Cowher’s 1995 fine as a precedent, the bill for Belichick’s Sunday incident should be around $11,337.
Add in the fact that he was warned about the treatment of referees, and expect the NFL to come down hard on the head coach with a fine closer to $25,000. That may be stiff, but the NFL has to send a message.
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