New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined $50,000 by the National Football League for grabbing the arm of a replacement official after his team’s 31-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The NFL also fined Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan $25,000 for a verbal altercation he had with an official over an erroneous call in the team’s 38-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The league said in a statement that the coaches were fined for violating the rule prohibiting abuse of game officials. Belichick was fined for impermissible physical contact and Shanahan for verbal abuse. Both offenses occurred in games on Sept. 23.
The fines are the most recent disciplinary actions the league has taken through the first three weeks of the season regarding the substitutes who are calling games in place of officials who are locked out in a dispute hinging on pensions and performance evaluation.
Players, coaches and even announcers on NFL game broadcasts have criticized the replacements. The scrutiny reached new heights on Sept. 24 when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 with a last-second touchdown on a disputed end- zone catch by Golden Tate.
The NFL said it stood by the call after a review, but critics -- including U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- said it was time to get the replacement officials off the field. Obama called the touchdown ruling “terrible.”
The NFL fined Denver Broncos coach John Fox $30,000 and assistant Jack Del Rio $25,000 for verbally abusing officials in a Sept. 17 loss to Atlanta.
Three days later, the league informed teams that it wouldn’t tolerate abuse of substitute officials.
The replacements have been criticized for missed and incorrect calls, a loss of control of players that has led to fights, and delays in play that have lengthened the games and disrupted no-huddle offenses.
Belichick grabbed the arm of an official as the teams left the field following the loss in Baltimore. He said he was trying to get an explanation on whether the Ravens’ game-winning field goal -- where the football flew directly over the right goalpost -- would be reviewed.
“I was just trying to get an explanation for obviously an important play,” the coach said the next day at a news conference.
Shanahan, the son of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct with seven seconds remaining in the loss to the Bengals. The penalty occurred when he was trying to get an explanation from an official who erroneously told the Redskins the game was over because a false-start penalty would mean a 10-second clock runoff, Shanahan said in a statement of apology.
“I was frustrated and, in the process of trying to get some answers from the officials, I conducted myself in the wrong way,” Shanahan said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Curtis Eichelberger in Wilmington, Delaware at ceichelberge@Bloomberg.net
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