Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday that the NFL hasn’t contacted him about his yelling at an official with his masked pulled down on Monday night, despite the referees’ union reportedly complaining to the league about the incident.
In an email to league executive vice president Troy Vincent and obtained by NFL Network, NFL Referees Association executive director Scott Green complained about Harbaugh’s actions during the Ravens’ 34-20 loss to Kansas City on Monday night. The email asked the league to clarify that similar actions going forward will be subject to penalty.
“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 in the email. “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.”
In response, Harbaugh said Friday, “I understand that we’re all chasing perfection. We try to be as perfect as we can. It’s a pretty hard standard to hold other people to. But you try to do the best you can. That’s all I really have to say about it.”
During the first quarter of the game, cameras caught Harbaugh screaming at line judge Mark Steinkerchner following a penalty call, with Harbaugh’s gaiter around his neck and the coach’s nose and mouth uncovered.
On Wednesday, Harbaugh said, “I don’t think there is anybody better than us, me or our staff, from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” then later added, “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.”
Green also pointed out Harbaugh’s comments after the game, writing in his email, “Even more troubling are the public comments made by coach Harbaugh following the game downplaying the incident.”
Green later asked, “Additionally, our officials should be told that going forward, any similar actions by coaches or players in confronting officials at close proximity without a mask, definitely falls under the definition of Unsportsmanlike Conduct and subject to a penalty flag.”
Five head coaches each have received $100,000 fines and their teams assessed $250,000 apiece for not complying with the league’s rules for coaches and face coverings so far this season: the San Francisco 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, Seattle’s Pete Carroll, Denver’s Vic Fangio, New Orleans’ Sean Payton and Las Vegas’ Jon Gruden.