The Steelers’ win over the Buccaneers on Monday night was filled with penalties, with 13 fouls assessed against Pittsburgh and nine assessed against Tampa Bay. That has Steelers coach Mike Tomlin concerned.
Tomlin said today that his concern isn’t so much about penalties costing his team, as he felt the officials called the game fairly for both teams. Instead, Tomlin says, he’s worried that the NFL is going to be less popular with its fans if penalty calls are constantly interrupting the flow of the game.
“The penalties were a significant element of the game,” Tomlin said. “Penalties were called in a similar fashion on both sides and from that perspective it was fair. I don’t worry a lot about how the game is being officiated provided it’s being officiated in a similar way, and I thought it was from that perspective. But as somebody who appreciates the game and understands we’re in the sports entertainment business, it is worrisome from the fan perspective. I do worry about what it’s like to watch that game at home with penalties being administered at the rate that they were.”
Tomlin makes a good point: Fans don’t tune in hoping to see a lot of penalties from the officials. They tune in hoping to see great play from the players. And in the NFL this year, too often the penalties have overshadowed the game. In the long run, that threatens to erode the sport’s popularity.