The NFL has given officials the authority to penalize coaches who “approach them in an innappropriate way” without a face covering, 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
This follows a Week 3 complaint by the NFL Referees Association that Baltimore Ravens coach, John Harbaugh, pulled his mask down and got in line judge Mark Steinkirchner’s face to argue a play.
Report: NFL officials union complains about Harbaugh covid-19 violation during sideline argument
The NFL.com report further states that Perry Fewell, senior vice president of officiating, sent a memo to all teams on Friday that read in part:
We have seen multiple occasions where head coaches have removed their masks to communicate with game officials during games. Doing so creates unnecessary, increased risk for the game official, the head coach, and others, and is inconsistent with the requirement that face coverings be worn at all times.
Fewell warned that not only do coaches face a big fine, they also face suspension and their teams could forefeit future draft picks.
But the biggest penalty for coaches could be the loss of 15 yards. It was obvious that six-figure fines were not making an impact on coaches – some of whom are signed to eight-figure contracts.
If fines don’t make an impact, maybe a coach putting his team in second and long, and costing his team a third round draft pick next spring, will.