It sounds like John Harbaugh is trying to pick a fight with the NFL over its requirement that sideline personnel wear masks throughout games.
John Harbaugh is a great coach. With Lamar Jackson at quarterback, it appears that his Baltimore Ravens will be contenders for years to come.
Because of that, you would think he would be interested in keeping the season moving forward. Instead, it appears that he is willing to pick a fight with the NFL over the league’s facial covering requirement on the sidelines during games this season.
A week after the league fined several coaches and teams for not wearing their masks throughout their game, Harbaugh was not wearing his while yelling at a ref on Monday Night Football:
Social media, of course, lit up. People were critical of him for not wearing his mask and that he should expect a fine. But while the other coaches fined were largely contrite, Harbaugh decided to fight back (via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley):
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. 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.
While Harbaugh is not alone in his angst, Harbaugh’s mask didn’t just ‘fall down.’ According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the NFL Referees Association executive director Scott Green had this to say in an email to the league front office:
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.
Harbaugh may find a sympathetic ear or two if his mask did happen to fall. But that was not the case. Even if it did, there is no way the NFL is going to bend the rules or loosen up on restrictions anytime soon.
The NFL must’ve hoped its players and coaches would care more than this. Instead, the league fined the Las Vegas Raiders for breaking protocols. The Tennessee Titans may be next following the league’s investigation into whether they broke protocols.
It cut coaches some slack after Week One and just issued a warning. But after several additional violations in Week Two, the league handed out $1.75 million in fines. There’s been no word yet about fines from Week Three. Harbaugh said on Friday that he has yet to hear from the league.
The league has said that it is willing to take things a step further:
One game has already been pushed until later in the season (Titans-Steelers), and another has been rescheduled (Chiefs-Patriots). With the Titans having additional positives throughout the week, their Week Five game is in danger.
For the season to continue, let alone finish, protocols must be strict, and teams must comply. If they do not, the season will not finish, and no one makes any money.
And it’s no secret that making money is what matters most in the NFL.