The NFL, as a matter of practicality, has to pick its battles when it comes to enforcing the rule about head coaches running, walking, or otherwise venturing out onto the field of play.
Apparently the fact that it is annoying isn’t enough to ramp up the enforcement of the rule. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the following about the rule, which appeared to be broken in rather blatant fashion by both Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh this past weekend:
‘The practical application of the rule is that unless there is interference with a player or game official, it is not going to be called,’ an NFL spokesman told PFT via email on Monday. ‘The officials will not turn and look for this behind the play.’
That interpretation draws a pretty clear distinction between instances like the one from Mike Tomlin earlier in the season and those that are harmless. Still, it would be interesting to see the officials cast an observing eye towards the sidelines during that NFC Championship game with those two excitable coaches in what will surely be a heated contest.
As for the AFC Championship game? Yea, don’t think those coaches are much of a risk to break this rule. John Fox likely cannot run for health reasons, and Bill Belichick only runs when he’s chasing officials, not any action on the field.