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Refs will flag coaches who leave the sideline to argue calls


NFL officials are usually pretty tolerant about coaches yelling at them. Yes, a coach can get a penalty for going too far, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a coach in the NFL is nowhere near as common as an NBA coach getting a technical foul or a Major League Baseball manager getting the old heave-ho.

But that may soon change.

NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson told Clark Judge of CBS that the league is ready to start cracking down on coaches who leave the sideline and step onto the field to yell at officials, and if coaches don’t learn, penalty flags are coming.

“We need to be much more disciplined about where our coaches go in terms of the box,” Anderson said, “and venturing out on the field beyond traditional markers is something that is just not appropriate. It can interfere and it can be viewed as intimidating, and we really are going to rein that in.”

Anderson said that in the past the officials routinely gave coaches leeway, but not anymore.

“There are borders,” said Anderson, “but, very frankly, they’re loosely enforced. But they will be more aggressively enforced going forward because we need to rein it in. . . . Coaches can be flagged. It’s about enforcement and point of emphasis. So coaches who, after appropriate warning, continue to venture out will pay the price with a penalty that potentially could hurt their team.”

For coaches who can’t control their tempers, a 15-yard penalty will serve as a swift reminder to stay on the sideline.

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88 Responses to “Refs will flag coaches who leave the sideline to argue calls”
  1. bamj6 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:27 PM

    Is this the Jim Harbaugh rule?

  2. illinininer says: Feb 20, 2013 8:28 PM

    Might as well just make any holding call against the 49ers a 25-yard penalty.

  3. jackg19 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:28 PM

    Some refs need to be yelled at

  4. profootballwalk says: Feb 20, 2013 8:30 PM

    In recent years, I’ve seen a lot of coaches running out of the field. Never saw that 20-30 years ago. There shouldn’t even be a warning – just make a rule – you step over the line, 15 yards. No one who isn’t a player belongs on the field.

  5. skoobyfl says: Feb 20, 2013 8:30 PM

    The Bills coaches needed walkers for that until this season.

  6. doe22us says: Feb 20, 2013 8:31 PM

    bamj6 says:
    Feb 20, 2013 8:27 PM
    Is this the Jim Harbaugh rule?

    You beat me to the punch.

  7. maxl49 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:32 PM

    Are they still allowed to shove the ref ?

  8. flavordave says: Feb 20, 2013 8:32 PM

    A ploy to slow the game down and add more commercials.

  9. cometkazie says: Feb 20, 2013 8:33 PM

    OK, now, what are the “borders”?

  10. 49erdynasty says: Feb 20, 2013 8:34 PM

    Flag coaches who leave the sideline to complain, but give them a more appropriate avenue to contest the call. Expand replay reviews to officiating.

  11. lightcleric says: Feb 20, 2013 8:35 PM

    But what are they going to do when the coach whines about a no-call for a week after the Super Bowl?

  12. donjuan2oo6 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:35 PM

    Where’s harbaugh’s pic?

  13. chasewalshsl says: Feb 20, 2013 8:37 PM


    his brother is just as much a whiner as him.

  14. gooolions says: Feb 20, 2013 8:38 PM

    Mike McCarthy is going to be in big trouble.

  15. st1llerz1 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:42 PM

    The “Crying Harbaugh’s” are in big trouble if this is true! How are these two crybabies possibly going to get their point across if they can’t leave the sidelines!?!?

    Not to mention the fact that the sidelines will be a mud bath with all the tears they shed…


  16. eaglesfan94 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:44 PM

    Maybe one day they’ll make it as bad as baseball.

  17. whitecastleisafoodgroup says: Feb 20, 2013 8:49 PM

    Stay within the lines … the lines are your friends …

  18. west4420 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:50 PM

    jackg19 says:Feb 20, 2013 8:28 PM

    Some refs need to be yelled at
    You’re obviously a fanboy with Ginn’s number in your handle. Harbaugh is the biggest whiner in the league. It’s embarassing.

  19. jimthebuilder27 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:51 PM

    So when are they going to start cracking down on refs for terrible calls?

    I guess some things never really change!

  20. dorn09 says: Feb 20, 2013 8:54 PM

    Why add more flags to the game? All ready to many holding, pass interference and illegal contact penalties. Going to be like the NBA, whistle on every play.

    Fine them but flags are not needed.

  21. gbpackets says: Feb 20, 2013 8:59 PM

    That’s a great start. Next thing they need to do is start rewarding every single receiver and defensive back who waves their hand and looks around for a flag with a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. I’m so sick of seeing these overgrown babies whine.

  22. dubblelznhell says: Feb 20, 2013 9:02 PM

    Watch Harbaugh will get fired for too many of these costing wins….

  23. cmstrick says: Feb 20, 2013 9:03 PM

    Good. I like it. The field is for players and refs.

  24. jagsfanugh says: Feb 20, 2013 9:04 PM

    About time, they should flag fans that are loud too.

  25. pghdc says: Feb 20, 2013 9:31 PM

    Coaches really have been on the field way too much.

  26. rcali says: Feb 20, 2013 9:32 PM

    What if a coach, let’s say Jim Harbaugh, throws his clipboard and or headset out to mid field…does that count?

  27. neverwave says: Feb 20, 2013 9:34 PM

    The whining Harbaugh brothers are going to need leashes.

  28. chozen49 says: Feb 20, 2013 9:36 PM

    Gee, how did I know this was gonna be directed at Jim Harbaugh?

  29. drbob117 says: Feb 20, 2013 9:44 PM

    There goes the last sport where officials act like men when they make a mistake. In the other 3 sports you get at T , a 2 minute penalty, or ejected after you remind a ref he screwed up. I guarantee those weekly briefing where the NFL admits they screwed up a call will be over soon too.

  30. 2difshoe says: Feb 20, 2013 9:44 PM

    Let coaches leave the sidelines and argue calls….arm Ref’s with Tazers.

  31. glad4sgone says: Feb 20, 2013 9:46 PM

    I applaud this, it’s about time. It’s gone too far lately.

  32. wisewoo says: Feb 20, 2013 9:48 PM

    Some coaches are going to get concussions from the blood vessels the burst in their forehead from having to hold their tongue.

  33. wisewoo says: Feb 20, 2013 9:50 PM

    Also, can a coach walk on the field to politely speak to a ref who is ignoring them when they have firm grounds to have something explained?

    I see a lot of highly debatable super judgment flags coming and this rule pushed to eradication in two years.

  34. packersrule52 says: Feb 20, 2013 9:50 PM

    Awesome that Jim Harbaugh is pictured in the caption. He’s honestly the first guy I thought of when I read the headline. He’s the biggest crybaby in the league – players included.

  35. melikefootball says: Feb 20, 2013 9:51 PM

    Oh no the Hairballs will be crying now!

  36. golforepar says: Feb 20, 2013 9:56 PM

    If you listen closely you can hear Jim “the crybaby” Harbaugh crying about it now!

  37. Iknoweverything says: Feb 20, 2013 10:07 PM

    If they flag coaches for whining and crying, then the 49ers will lose every game next year. May as well not even show up cause Harbaugh will rack up 1000 penalty yards a game

  38. harrisbarton says: Feb 20, 2013 10:09 PM

    Lot of Harbaugh haters here. But other than Belichik, no other coaches except the Harbaughs have brought their team to two conference championship games and a Superbowl in the last two years.

    You guys are the real whiners, as your coaches don’t measure up and your teams have fallen short. Wah wah wah. Better get used to seeing 49ers and Ravens outperforming your team year after year.

  39. letmesetyoustraight says: Feb 20, 2013 10:14 PM

    Mike “the headset smasher” Smith better beware.

  40. midwestwarrior says: Feb 20, 2013 10:19 PM

    i knew when i saw the title of this article before opening it up that a picture of harbaugh would be on here

  41. dkuether017 says: Feb 20, 2013 10:23 PM

    This should be deemed the Harbaugh rule with subsections for John & Jim

  42. vikinganswer says: Feb 20, 2013 10:26 PM

    Dorn09 you dont get it. Those are the rules. Players need to learn them. “Too” many cheaters. Throw more flags. They will stop.

  43. jerrod777 says: Feb 20, 2013 10:37 PM

    It’s about time. If there is a rule, you better enforce it. And by warning coaches now, they have time to prepare. If not, they pay the price.

  44. nagihcimwolves50 says: Feb 20, 2013 10:39 PM

    I actually don’t mind seeing defensive backs ask for a flag. It never gets called anyway and the rules are so ridiculous for the offense now they need all the help they can get

  45. noring4youstill says: Feb 20, 2013 10:44 PM

    Good something else for Lil Jimmy H to whine and moan about.

  46. pandebailey says: Feb 20, 2013 10:57 PM

    Finally. Flagging football coaches is needed – just treat it like baseball and basketball does. You mouth off too much, show disrespect, move onto the field, you get a penalty. Its not rocket science.

  47. ilovefoolsball says: Feb 20, 2013 10:57 PM

    While they’re at it why don’t they start cracking down on players touching refs.

  48. timegambit says: Feb 20, 2013 10:58 PM

    Hold the flags and put shock collars on ’em.

    By the end of the games they’ll be completely timid and obedient. You can even use the collars to help break them of some of their other bad habits, like using foul language and raising their voice…or dragging their ass across the carpet. It worked for our yellow lab.

  49. geetee52 says: Feb 20, 2013 10:58 PM


    For a while there I was starting to get worried the NFL wasn’t going to find a new way to inject more penalty flags and judgment calls into the game next year.

  50. raiderinva says: Feb 20, 2013 11:03 PM

    Say what you will, however some of the most fired up coaches in the history of the NFL never had to step on the field.

    Vince Lombardi
    Bill Parcells
    John Madden
    Bill Cowher
    Iron Mike Ditka
    Jim Mora
    Jon Gruden
    Jerry Glanville

    They always stayed on the sideline. Watch out for a flying headset, but they were not on the field unless they were checking on an injured player.

  51. justintuckrule says: Feb 20, 2013 11:06 PM

    Just throw flags to let me know a play is actually legal. That’s what this sorry league has become

  52. kheebner says: Feb 20, 2013 11:07 PM

    The no fun NFL continues

  53. kheebner says: Feb 20, 2013 11:12 PM

    How about flagging Tom Brady for crying like a baby every time someone lays a finger on him

  54. gbpshareholder says: Feb 20, 2013 11:18 PM

    It is about time the League flagged Jimmy for his antics!!!

  55. sharkmaster88 says: Feb 20, 2013 11:31 PM

    Well if the refs are the same ones that were in the Super Bowl then many coaches will be getting 15 yard flags those refs ruined a game because they chose to keep their flags in their pockets because Ray Lewis bought the commissioner just like he bought his way out of jail

  56. thejuddstir says: Feb 20, 2013 11:36 PM

    This is about as crazy as it gets. Just another rule that will only be enforced against certain headcoaches. Isn’t there a rule that makes it a penalty and disqualification for pushing a ref? How’s that working out.

  57. thraiderskin says: Feb 20, 2013 11:41 PM

    How wasn’t it a rule in the first place? In HS ball coaches got flagged for it.

  58. ez0682 says: Feb 20, 2013 11:43 PM

    Wow nfl really is turning in to the NBA soft. Ill stick with futbol where no commercial n allowed real d n a constant game without stupid commercials n calls.

  59. jprcox says: Feb 20, 2013 11:47 PM

    I am not saying I am “for” coaches doing this, but I am very much against the NFL’s attempt to micro-manage the game. Sometimes part of the entertainment is the drama of it all. They should flag coaches if they get out of hand, but that doesn’t really have much to do with where they are on the field. I see coaches all the time run onto the field when the team is about to score – while the play is still active. That must be allowed-right?

  60. srbumblebeeman says: Feb 21, 2013 12:01 AM

    Oh come on. Coach melt downs are we have after you took away touch down celebrations.

  61. hedleykow says: Feb 21, 2013 12:19 AM

    Coaches need plenty of range to thoroughly explain the rules to the refs during the game.

  62. 52lightsxout52 says: Feb 21, 2013 12:41 AM

    I think the Harbaugh Rule should include a stipulation that he be forced to were a medical mask on the sideline to control his drool and spittle-filled tirades…

  63. vaphinfan says: Feb 21, 2013 2:02 AM

    This rule applies to every team except the patriots……just like every other rule there is in the nfl.

  64. cmarsh64 says: Feb 21, 2013 2:45 AM

    They should throw the flag, I coach midget football and if we go past the 25yd line or have more than 2 coaches in the white box area we can and do get flagged. Players get a penalty for delay of game, then a coach coming out on the field is the same thing. Delay of game is unsportsman like 15yds so its only fair coaches get the same.

  65. chuckyd317 says: Feb 21, 2013 4:12 AM

    After last years officiating (regulars and replacements) coaches should be allowed to flag the officials…

  66. tbtrojan says: Feb 21, 2013 5:01 AM

    So no not only are you not allowed to comment after the game on the very poor job the officials do but they are seemingly trying to take away any chance to talk to them on the field about it also.
    This stinks of sticking their heads in the sand about how bad the officials are and protecting them more than anything the coaches actually do wrong.
    BTW has anyone done a report on ho bad the “official” officials were in the time since they came back, we seemingly got multiple daily updates on how bad the replacements were but so far nothing on this group of dimwitted buffons.

  67. wikipediasaidso says: Feb 21, 2013 6:57 AM

    @dorn09: “Fine them but flags are not needed.”

    Fines, schmines. In the heat of the moment, a coach is going to be MUCH more leery of drawing a 15-yd penalty. Rules on throwing a flag for this are already there anyway, it just becomes a point of emphasis.

    I like it. Football’s version of a bench technical, but with a little more consistency/teeth to it now. Coaches who already know how to rein themselves in before they overdo the riding the refs thing (and that’s most coaches, IMO) have nothing to worry about.

  68. billsfan1 says: Feb 21, 2013 7:02 AM

    next thing they need to do is flag the idiot wr who does the who first down sign after a catch…or the athlete bump- you know, where they run towards each other jump up, turn around and bump asses together. on top of that the can add the guy who sacks the qb who then runs 15 yards behind the line and folds his arms while looking into the endzone and shaking his head no…

    all crap. act like you have been there before

  69. Akula says: Feb 21, 2013 7:05 AM

    Since there was no fine for Harbaugh I can only assume that it is still OK to curse out an NFL VP on the leagues biggest stage.

  70. exboomer says: Feb 21, 2013 8:17 AM

    I can’t wait to see how many times Belichek gets flagged this year.

  71. snaponrules says: Feb 21, 2013 8:28 AM

    Yes lets flag coaches for coming on the field. But players can push around the officials during the game, or is that just for ravens players?

  72. bunjy96 says: Feb 21, 2013 8:55 AM

    Head coaches aren’t the only ones on the field during the game.

    In almost any game if there is a running touch down of more than a couple of yards, both teams have players and coaches on the field watching what is going on from a distance, but still on the field.

    There is no line anymore. Coaches and players creep all the time.

  73. marima07 says: Feb 21, 2013 9:03 AM

    Hm… Guess the coaches will just have to send in their players to just push the refs when they don’t like a call. Apparently, players can push and bump referees without getting ejected or even a penalty called.

  74. psilenttype says: Feb 21, 2013 9:29 AM

    I just knew when I clicked on the link I would see a picture of Jim Harbaugh… I like that our coach is passionate about the calls!

    He is not the only coach that argues calls and get upset when they don’t go his way but the media focuses on him!

    What about Pete Carroll, Rex Ryan, Jim Schwartz, Tom Coughlin, Mike Tomlin, John Fox… Coaches do it, the NFL is just trying to mute the outspoken coaches

  75. wvphil7 says: Feb 21, 2013 10:12 AM

    Old Jim H is in trouble

  76. thelastpieceofcheese says: Feb 21, 2013 10:30 AM

    First infraction, a 15-yard penalty.

    Second infraction, coach has to wear a muzzle the rest of the game.

  77. bkostela says: Feb 21, 2013 10:33 AM

    correct me if im wrong, but i thought no coaching staff/player personnel was allowed inside the 30 yd line even on the sidelines during plays. jim harbaugh was down at the 10 yard line on the 49ers last drive in the SB.

    if the league doesnt actually enforce this “penalty”, the coaches are going to be standing 5 yards behind the quarterback all game before we know it.

  78. 6superbowls says: Feb 21, 2013 10:58 AM

    Just something else for Mrs. Harbaugh’s little boys to whine about next season…

  79. allidoiswin55 says: Feb 21, 2013 10:59 AM

    Jim harbaugh whines even when he gets the call.. Dude is in a world of trouble if they enforce this he might get calls that wipe out opposing team penalties with his sideline antics.

    U can see this guy’s blood pressure spike through the TV

  80. nickster31 says: Feb 21, 2013 11:07 AM

    As a former ref, I think it is FANTASTIC that these rules are finally going to be called. For starters, there is a ref on each sideline in which the coach can talk to without having to step foot on the field. If the coach needs more of an answer than that ref can give him, that ref has the ability to blow his whistle and the head ref comes over.

    Once the coach steps foot on the field, or outside of the coaches box (30 yard line to 30 yard line) then he is breaking the rules.

    And, as a Steelers fan, this should be good for about 60 penalty yards per game against Harbaugh!

  81. nickster31 says: Feb 21, 2013 11:10 AM

    Does this rule apply only to coaches arguing with ref’s? What happens post TD when a coach and players are congratulating the players walking off the field? What happens when a coach is yelling at his team?

    Just curious.

  82. sharks123 says: Feb 21, 2013 12:27 PM

    Hate Harbaugh whining so what do you do about it, you whine about it. It’s nice to know he’s getting under the skin of so many enemy fans.

  83. vaphinfan says: Feb 21, 2013 12:42 PM

    Too bad they don’t make refs accountable for bad calls. Thats probably why you have so many of them. No consequence at all for making a bad call.

  84. lionsdraftguy says: Feb 21, 2013 1:22 PM

    Big mouth Jim Harbaugh is screwed then.

  85. aray3rd says: Feb 21, 2013 1:44 PM

    Pansy refs. They feel intimidated? Really? Do they actually think a coach is going to be dumb enough to let fly? I couldn’t blame a coach for some of the bone-head officiating we see, but I have a hard time believing a coach, no matter how animated he gets is actually going to assault an official. One more sanitizing rule by the NFL to reduce the excitement of a game. Dopes.

  86. southpaw79 says: Feb 21, 2013 1:49 PM

    Evil Dictator’s handbook rule #54: Instead of actually having to fix a problem that people are complaining about, it is alway easier just to make complaining about the problem illegal.

  87. loupalumbo says: Nov 21, 2013 7:54 PM

    Nice to see them following through on this in the Saints game when the 49ers were backed up in the 4th quarter….

  88. djdjmac says: Jan 15, 2014 12:51 AM

    I agree that with their position comes class and composure so coaches should be held to a higher standard. But don’t stop there. In this case refs are not obligated to change the call and never do without official play review. However in the case of crowd noise, which does directly affect the players and the outcome of the play (timeouts called, false starts, QB’s unable to audible plays, etc). Why is this being encouraged, instead of disciplined? At some point all playoff games may need to be played in neutral stadiums. Home field is meant to reward teams & local business for outstanding performance by allowing them to play for their home fans, its not meant to give unfair advantage to one team.

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