Tomlin does not deserve the scrutiny

PITTSBURGH – The more I watch TV, the more I’m convinced Mike Tomlin will be lucky to avoid the death penalty for his crime.

By now, you know what happened: Tomlin was on the field during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Thanksgiving night game against the Ravens in Baltimore.

It appeared that he at least slightly impeded Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones on a kickoff return.

The question is whether Tomlin deliberately intefered with Jones’ path, possibly preventing a touchdown.

Tomlin pleads innocent on that count. He said he’s in the habit of watching returns on the video scoreboard because his field-level view doesn’t provide a good perspective. Players have backed him up on this.

Tomlin said he didn’t realize until the last second that he was possibly becoming part of the play. His two-step hop back to the sideline has been replayed hundreds of times, from several different angles.

No penalty was called at the time, but Tomlin is definitely facing discipline from the NFL.

The first 20 minutes of Tomlin’s Tuesday press conference were devoted to his remorse over the incident. Most weeks the whole press conference doesn’t last 20 minutes.

If his excursion onto the field was pre-meditated, he should forget about coaching and suit up as a player. With reflexes like that and split-second timing, he could be a formidable force on a defense that needs help. (And he wouldn’t be that much older than some of the players).

This is more a case of neglect than criminal intent. The NFL should fine him heavily, and that should be the end of it.

Get it over with, and get if out of the news.

The way things are going, you start hoping for snow so the weather scare stories can replace this at the top of the newscast.

Making changes

So the Pirates have parted company with Garrett Jones and Michael McKenry.

Both are first-class people, but they’re no longer useful players for the Pirates.

Jones simply got too expensive for a part-time role. McKenry was a gritty little hustler, but he wasn’t much of a catcher.

The Pirates upgraded the back-up catcher spot by acquiring Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees. The interesting part of that is that Stewart’s addition apparently sends Tony Sanchez back to Class AAA for another season.

Maybe the idea is to have Sanchez work on his defensive skills with the idea he can replace Russell Martin as the starter in 2015.

The upcoming season is the last of the two-year deal Martin signed as a free agent last winter.

Meanwhile, it’s time for A.J. Burnett to give the Pirates an answer on the offer they’ve made to him.

Mehno can be reached at