The NFL Referees Association wants the NFL to take action against Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, writing a sharply worded condemnation of his actions in Monday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In an email sent to NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, NFLRA executive director Scott Green said that Harbaugh’s verbal tirade — with the coach’s gaiter lowered beneath his mouth and nose — to line judge Mark Steinkerchner was unacceptable and demanded action from the league.
“Under the current COVID-19 environment and protocols we are dealing with, it was completely out of line for coach Harbaugh to remove his mask and verbally confront our official," Green wrote. “His behavior was in direct violation with the statements and instructions the league has made in an effort to ensure the safety of players and officials.”
John Harbaugh about to fistfight this ref has been my mood all 2020 pic.twitter.com/ENRaKPkc8a— Slightly Biased (@BiasedSlightly) September 29, 2020
“Even more troubling,” the email also noted, “are the public comments made by coach Harbaugh following the game downplaying the incident.”
Harbaugh was asked about that tirade after the game, specifically about his face covering being lowered during it. The coach said he thought it was unrealistic for anyone to keep their mask up for the duration of a game.
More Harbaugh: "To think in a three-hour heated competitive environment -- especially when you’re yelling, that your mask isn’t going to fall down for 5 to 10 seconds -- I don’t think anybody could be held to that standard."— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) September 30, 2020
Green also wrote that any similar actions should result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
John Harbaugh can expect a fine at the very least
Multiple coaches were hit with fines in excess of $100,000 for having been seen with their masks down during the course of games. It only stands to reason that Harbaugh will also face a penalty.
Now coaches and teams are being threatened with possible suspensions and/or a loss of draft picks for repeated violations of the mask mandate.
COVID-19 anxiety already has been elevated this week in the NFL, with the first game this season having to be pushed back three weeks following positive tests involving the Tennessee Titans. Now with another coach involved in a mask violation, the tension won’t be simmering down anytime soon.
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