After two incidents over the past weekend, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh will not be suspended for their actions, but they could still be fined, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Belichick grabbed the arm of an official after the Patriots lost to the Ravens on Sunday, and Harbaugh was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after arguing an illegal contact penalty. The Baltimore Sun reported that Harbaugh admitted on Sunday that he bumped an official.
A number of coaches have already been fined by the NFL for behavior directed toward replacement officials.
Dan Hanzus of NFL.com wrote that NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was fined $25,000 for an unsportsmanlike penalty in Sunday's 38-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, according to a source who spoke to Shanahan.
Rapoport also reported (h/t Hanzus) that Denver Broncos head coach John Fox was fined $30,000 and Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was fined $25,000 on Monday for their "dealings with replacement officials last Monday night," as wrote Hanzus.
It highlights the labor dispute between the league and the NFLRA even more. It already appears as if the league has evolved into a battlefield as yellow flags litter the field each and every week. Not only have the players appeared to turn on the replacement officials, but the coaches are turning on them as well. The fact that we used to criticize the real officials in the past seems almost trivial at this point.
On the other hand, there is no excuse for grabbing an official's arm like Belichick did, no matter the circumstances. He should feel lucky he wasn't suspended. As infuriating as this whole ordeal is, Belichick—and the rest of the coaches who were fined, for that matter—have to act like professionals, especially if players are stretching the league's boundaries on the field as it is.
One thing's for sure: This has all become one royal mess, with the King himself, commissioner Roger Goodell, appearing to do nothing to stop the underlying issue: We need our officials back.