Jamal Murray avoids suspension for throwing heat pack, towel on floor

On Monday night, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray threw a heat pack and a towel onto the floor, during a game between Denver and Minnesota.

Amazingly, Murray was not ejected at the time — or suspended thereafter.

The NBA instead fined Murray $100,000 for the incident.

Officials didn't see it when it happened. Murray supposedly would have received only a technical foul and not an ejection, if they'd seen it happen.

While basketball obviously isn't our beat, it's a bizarre precedent that the NFL would never set.

Someone easily could have suffered an injury by stepping, slipping, or falling on the items. If that had happened, the punishment presumably would have been worse. Which makes the discipline even bizarre.

Why should it be based on the outcome? It's the behavior that's the problem.

No player or coach, to our knowledge, has thrown an item onto the field during an NFL game. (Fans have, specifically in Buffalospecifically regarding Tom Brady.) However, there have been similar incidents.

In 2013, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin strayed too close to the action and distracted Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones during a kickoff return. In 2010, former Jets strength coach Sal Alosi formed a phalanx on the edge of the white stripe, tripping Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll while he was trying to cover a punt. (Also, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher almost pulled a Woody Hayes after a game-clinching blocked field goal by the Jaguars in 1997.)

Tomlin was fined $100,000. Alosi was fined $25,000 and suspended. He eventually resigned.

Neither was on the field itself. Only once, as best we can tell, did a player who wasn't in the game actually entered the gridiron from the sideline during a play.

From the 1993 obituary of former Bears guard Ray Bray: "The Bears were playing the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and Mr. Bray was standing on the sidelines when a Ram intercepted a Bears’ pass and was headed for the goal line. Mr. Bray stepped on the field and tackled the opponent without anyone realizing he was not one of the 11 Bears players on the field for the play."

Any player who would pull something like that in today's NFL would not go unnoticed, or unpunished. And any player that actually threw something into the action during a play would face harsh discipline as well.

Many believe the punishment for Murray was too light. While it wasn't cheap, he lost no playing time. The deterrent effect is minimal; a future player who might be inclined to yield to temptation or frustration might think they'll treat it like a parking ticket. A very expensive one, but still.

Murray's salary for the 2023-24 season is $33.8 million. The fine equates to 0.2 percent of his pay.

Still, NFL players would be wise not to get any similar ideas. The NFL surely would mete out something far more stern.

Unless an owner does it, of course. Just ask David Tepper about the wrist slap (relative to his net worth) he received for throwing a drink on a fan.