Updated: Dec 30, 2020
(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
The Steelers clinched the AFC North on Sunday after coming back from a 17-point deficit and beating the Indianapolis Colts, 28-24. The players received their division title hats and T-shirts and danced to JuJu Smith-Schuster's favorite song "Adderall, Corvette Corvette" by Popp Hunna, and posted it on social media platforms.
One issue though, there were some players not wearing masks, which is a violation of the COVID-19 protocols that's been sent out by the NFL.
After the New Orleans Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-3 in Week 9, the Saints did a similar celebration to players on the Steelers and were fined heavily for it. According to Pro Football Talk, videos, including at least one posted on the Saints’ official social media outlets, showed Saints players and coaches yelling, laughing and hugging each other in the locker room without masks after the win.
The NFL stripped a seventh-round draft pick from the Saints and fined the organization $500,000 for the incident. The Saints were considered as repeat offenders because coach Sean Payton has previously been fined for failing to wear a mask, and the Saints franchise was fined at the same time.
It will be interesting to see if the NFL comes down on the Steelers with punishment like they dished to the Saints. Tomlin was fined $100,000 and the Steelers were fined $250,000 for mask violations in their Week 8 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Tomlin was asked about the Steelers' postgame celebration at his weekly press conference today and whether he's heard from the league about the matter.
"I haven't heard directly from the NFL, but our organization has," Tomlin said. "That's something we're going to address with our group." We have to control our emotions. It's a continual education process to adhere to protocols of the pandemic."
The players were excited after a big win and didn't violate the COVID-19 protocols intentionally, but Tomlin says they still have to keep their emotions in check to follow the guidelines in a season being played during a pandemic.
“Obviously, emotions were what they were in terms of being divisional champs, but we are in a global pandemic,” Tomlin said. “We take that very seriously. We have to control our emotions. It is a continual education process in terms of making sure that our guys understand how important it is that we adhere to the protocols of the pandemic.
“That being said, sometimes the education is punitive in nature and that’s just the reality of it. But we will keep that business in-house and appropriately so as we work to keep all business in-house in that regard as it pertains to discipline."
Tomlin made it very clear that the Steelers respect the protocols put out by the league and the mishap in the postgame locker celebration after the win over the Colts is a learning lesson.
“But make no mistake about it, we take this global pandemic very seriously," Tomlin said. "We take the guidelines prescribed by the NFL very seriously. We work our tails off to adhere to them, even in the midst of big emotional moments like we experienced after securing our AFC North divisional championship. In the midst of all the excitement, there are still lessons to be learned. There’s still growth for us there. We do not run away from it. We run to it.”