Ravens' criticism of MNF officials draws fines for four

Updated: December 8, 2007, 12:21 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Four Baltimore Ravens players have been fined for violating league rules prohibiting the abuse of game officials, the NFL announced Friday.

Linebacker Bart Scott was fined $25,000 for verbally abusing game officials and throwing an official's flag into the stands during Monday night's game against New England.

Cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister and wide receiver Derrick Mason were fined $15,000 each for publicly questioning the integrity of the officiating in the game.

"This is about the importance of sportsmanship and respecting the integrity of our game," Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement. "We do not tolerate inappropriate conduct between teams and game officials. This includes reminding game officials that they are to conduct themselves at all times as professionals in their dealings with players, coaches, and other club personnel."

Anderson visited Baltimore this week to speak directly with Scott and Rolle before meting out the fines.

"Last Monday night's game was well officiated," Anderson said, "and it is the obligation of both players and coaches to maintain proper respect for game officials at all times."

Scott talked Friday about his meeting with Anderson.

"We both came to the conclusion that I made a bad decision, but he understood the emotion and took that into consideration, the emotion and the moment," Scott said. "It's definitely something for me to learn from and grow from and be an advocate speaker for great conduct."

In addition to prohibiting physical contact with game officials, league rules also bar team personnel from verbal or other non-physical abuse of officials and from public criticism of their integrity.

Ravens coach Brian Billick accepted the league's punishment. "As I said earlier this week, our actions were not appropriate near the end of our game against the Patriots," Billick said in a statement. "We believe in the integrity of NFL officials and don't believe they, in any way, favored the Patriots with their calls.

"As a team, we've discussed a number of times about not speaking publicly about any unhappiness we have with the officials. As emotional as the end of Monday's game was, I should have reminded the players of that in our post-game meeting. That's my mistake. We do appreciate the extra step taken by the Commissioner's Office when Ray Anderson came here yesterday to talk with some of our players."

The Ravens lost to the Patriots 27-24. Baltimore held a 24-20 lead before New England marched downfield for the winning touchdown with 44 seconds left. The drive included several costly penalties against the Ravens and an inopportune timeout by Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Mike Pereira said Thursday that all of the calls that generated controversy were made correctly. Pereira also addressed Rolle's accusation that head linesman Phil McKinnely repeatedly called him "boy" at one point in the game.

Pereira said McKinnely's "interpretation" of the situation differed from Rolle's. He added that he found no fault in how McKinnely handled the controversy.

"Phil, in my mind, acted as he should," Pereira told the NFL Network. "We'd like to walk away, but there is a point where it's very difficult to do that."

After the game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pointed out that there were "a lot of questionable calls and we made some plays" to win the game.

McAlister had harsher words about the referees and singled out a late holding call on rookie safety Jamaine Winborne.

"It's hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time," McAlister said. "They put the crown on top of them, they want them to win. They won."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.