Belichick was fined $50,000 for what the NFL deemed
"impermissible physical contact with an official"
– maybe the most expensive arm grab ever — after the Patriots' loss to the
Ravens on Sunday night.
There is no doubt that Belichick's action, however subtle or harmless,
warranted some punishment from the league — and he accepted responsibility for
it in a statement released on Wednesday. But in comparison to some of the other
penalties handed down (or not handed down, in the case of Ravens coach John Harbaugh),
Belichick's punishment seems severe.
The confrontation between Belichick and replacement official Esteban
Garza took place after Ravens kicker Justin Tucker nailed a questionable
27-yard game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. Belichick, who says he meant no disrespect in
ran alongside Garza after the game and tried to grab the official in an attempt
to clarify whether the final play was reviewable.
Belichick's action appeared to show up the official on national
television, a big no-no in the eyes of the image-conscious NFL, and some sort
of sanction was expected for it. But while Belichick breaks out the check book
to pay off his hefty fine, Washington Redskins offensive coordinate Kyle
Shanahan and even Harbaugh, who accidentally bumped an official on Sunday
night, seem to have gotten off a bit too easy.
Following Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Shanahan was so
irate at one official in particular that he decided to track him down postgame.
Shanahan literally chased down the replacement inside the halls at FedEx Field and
berated him with an expletive-laden rant.
Shanahan was fined $25,000 for his unbecoming actions while Harbaugh avoided all discipline. Shanahan's price tag was hefty, but compared
to Belichick, he got off easy.
While Belichick's grab was an obvious break of the league's "no
contact" rule, Shanahan's over-the-top belittling seems far more
Sure, Belichick did it on national television, on full display for the ever-critical public. But at least his intent was harmless and the
action ended there. Shanahan, on the other hand, actually sought out the
official afterward with a blatant axe to grind, leaving him with what were
reportedly some offensive and demeaning words that shouldn't be repeated
There's no doubt that Belichick deserved some sort of punishment for
his misconduct, and the price might have even been right given the act. But for
Shanahan to get half the penalty for what could arguably be viewed as a more
heinous crime is just wrong.
The NFL has an officiating problem, and maybe that's even an
understatement, and they should be sensitive about how their employees, in this
case the coaches, handle the issue. But while sensitivity is understood and
warranted, fairness should also be a primary concern.
As is common in the NFL these days, we can just chalk this one
up as a bad call.