The NFL has been vocal about the importance of coaches and personnel wearing face masks on the sideline during games. The league has fined at least four head coaches since the start of the season for not wearing face coverings properly and now it’s taking things one step further in possibly impacting the outcome of a game.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the NFL Senior VP of Officiating sent out a memo on Friday explaining that if a coach approaches an official while improperly wearing a face covering the official can flag the coach’s team 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Fewell's memo references multiple head coaches removing masks and says game officials have been reminded "if an individual not wearing a face covering approaches them inappropriately, they have the authority to take administrative or officiating action," including penalties.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 9, 2020
Just imagine a game ultimately being decided by a coach being flagged for not wearing a mask properly.
This rule could be in place after Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh was caught screaming in an official’s face with his face mask pulled down a couple of weeks ago. The NFL has already fined four head coaches $100,000 each and teams an additional $250,000 for not wearing masks properly during games.
Fines were the first step in the face-covering equation around the league. The league has also warned teams that if coaches and staffers don’t abide by the face-covering protocols, suspensions and even loss of draft picks are possibilities.
One would think that getting slapped with a $100,000 fine and the warning of losing draft picks would have coaches fully on board with wearing masks, but with this latest addition to the rulebook, it’s clear that the mask protocols aren’t being perfectly followed up to this point of the season.