Sadly, a great game between two up and coming NFL coaches was marred by the media circus that is sure to ensue after the scuffle between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz was caught on camera.
Following the 49ers exciting 25-19 victory over the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Harbaugh was extremely exuberant while running out to midfield to shake hands with Schwartz. It appeared that Schwartz was angry over the forceful handshake and failed attempt at a pat on the back and ran after Harbaugh shouting, which caused both men to be restrained by players and officials.
On one hand it is great to see two coaches, who are passionate and knew how much this game meant. It also gives some great back story for a potential playoff rematch and a burgeoning rivalry, which the Detroit Lions (and frankly the NFL) sorely needs.
Still, even the braggadocios Rex Ryan and ill tempered Todd Haley have never been caught trying to engage in fisticuffs on the field with an opposing coach. It makes one wish that instead of venting their frustrations on the field, the coaches should have saved up that energy and commentary for the press conference following the game.
Instead, Jim Schwartz was rather subdued and took the high road, which seemed odd, considering how adamant he appeared to be in terms of getting an apology from Harbaugh immediately on the field.
Whatever the perception of this event is, the coaches should be held to the same standards as players who would surely be fined for engaging in such behavior on the field. Not only did it distract focus from what was one of the best games of the afternoon, it also caused players to get involved and create negative attention for the league.
Coming off a week where the league handed down a fine to Matt Birk for removing a microphone from his shoulder pads, it would be foolish not to send the message that arguments and dislike for opponents are great for the game, but the threat of physicality will not be tolerated.
Here's to hoping that the next time these two teams meet, Jim Schwartz is a little more creative than Todd Haley was when he made his now infamous "finger wag" at Josh McDaniels.