NFL sends letter about sideline rules

Updated: December 16, 2010, 9:35 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NFL sent a letter to the 32 teams Thursday reminding them of the rules and restrictions for the bench area and sidelines.

Ray Anderson, the league's executive vice president for football operations, emphasized the responsibilities placed on each team to appoint a "get-back coach" to ensure that players, coaches and other staff are in compliance with league rules.

These long-standing rules are in place for safety purposes in order to protect players and officials on the field, members of the chain crew, as well as coaches, players and other club personnel in the bench areas.

-- NFL executive vice president for football operations Ray Anderson

The letter was sent in the wake of New York Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi being suspended indefinitely and fined $25,000 by the team for sticking out his knee and tripping the Miami Dolphins' Nolan Carroll in Sunday's game. Alosi subsequently acknowledged he told five inactive players to stand next to each other for a punt return, during which he tripped Carroll.

"These long-standing rules are in place for safety purposes in order to protect players and officials on the field, members of the chain crew, as well as coaches, players and other club personnel in the bench areas," Anderson wrote.

The "get-back coach" must be aware of all sideline restrictions and will be responsible for ensuring that the team and staff are in compliance. Anderson added that "violations could subject your team and/or individuals to both in-game penalties and other disciplinary action. Flagrant violations after two warnings could result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty."

He said fines and suspensions could be imposed by the league, as well.

During a news conference Monday, Alosi fought back tears as he called his actions -- tripping Carroll -- "inexcusable and irresponsible." He also said no one was instructed to stay up on the sideline to prevent Dolphins players from running out of bounds on kicks. Miami's Reshad Jones was penalized for doing that earlier in the game.

However, tight end Jeff Cumberland, who was inactive Sunday, said it was nothing new for the players to line up next to each other as they did against the Dolphins.

"Since the beginning of the year, we've been instructed to line up behind the [white] line," he said, adding that only Alosi told them to do so.

Coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff have both denied they ordered anyone to do what Alosi told the players.

"It caught me off-guard," Ryan said.

Westhoff said he doesn't teach the technique and reviewed every return by the Jets this season with assistant special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum suspended Alosi indefinitely when the additional information became known. Tannenbaum said he met with Anderson on Wednesday morning and the league supported the Jets' decision to increase the suspension.

Tannenbaum did not rule out the possibility that Alosi will be fired.

"All options are on the table," he said.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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