October 17, 2011
The postgame dust-up between Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh after the San Francisco 49ers' 25-19 win over the Detroit Lions has been played up all day just about everywhere in NFL circles, but the league took the first step to putting it to bed Monday when NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that neither coach would be fined for the incident.
"On Detroit-SF coach incident, fortunately, there was no fighting and thus no basis for a fine," Aiello wrote on Twitter Monday. "However, both coaches told [VP of football operations] Ray Anderson today that their post-game conduct was wrong and will not happen again. ... We believe their response is the correct one and that their post-game conduct going forward will be more appropriate."
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Given 24 hours to reflect, Schwartz clearly sounded like a man who wished none of it had happened, and would very much like to move on. "It was unfortunate," he said in his Monday press conference. "The games are played by the players on the field and we certainly don't want things like that to occur, but there are competitive people in the league and I think we need to do a better job of just leaving it to the players on the field."
Schwartz said that he had spoken to people from the league, and that he and Harbaugh did get a brief moment to speak after the incident cleared up. "Well, I have had contact with a lot of people today, but afterwards in the tunnel, I got a brief chance to speak with [Harbaugh] sort of. Everything had died down a little bit. I am sure we will talk again or will talk again soon."
Schwartz then recounted his history with Harbaugh, which had always been positive before. "It was fine," he said. "I was a lowly quality control coach [in Baltimore]. I mean I was the quality control guy on defense and he was the quarterback. I haven't exactly stayed in touch. When he coached with the Raiders, I talked to him. He was the quarterback coach and I think I was the defensive coordinator with the Titans. But, there is nothing and there is nothing now.
"It is something that happened at the end of the game and, like I said, it sort of took away from the fact that it was a tough, hard-fought game and congratulations to them. They came on the road, very, very difficult place — our fans made it a difficult place to play again — and they came away with a win. We have talked before about how important road wins are, particularly NFC road wins."
Asked if he felt that he should apologize, Schwartz left that one alone. "It is a regrettable situation; particularly the fact that it detracted from what happened in the game … I will just revert back to what I said yesterday and just leave it there. I think it is what it is. It happened. It was very regrettable and it is something that there is nothing going forward between us personally or the two teams. Like I said, it was a tough, hard-fought game in Ford Field. We need to play better and come out with a win the next time."
Schwartz also tried to put to rest any speculation that Harbaugh was hot over something he may have said when Harbaugh drew a penalty for trying to challenge a scoring play that he wasn't allowed to challenge. Our own Chris Chase has speculated, and others have followed, that this may have been the root of the problem.
"I don't think he was watching on TV," Schwartz concluded. "You can't hear things across the field. You can't challenge a scoring play; I think we all know that."
Schwartz has bigger fish to fry; his Lions welcome the Atlanta Falcons to Ford Field this Sunday. With the Green Bay Packers at 6-0 and the 3-3 Chicago Bears suddenly looking stronger, the Lions are in a position where they've moved from America's Darlings to just another team locked in a breakneck division race.
"Well, that's life in the NFL," he concluded. "It's been a long time since we've been through that. This franchise went through a lot of lean years — lean being probably a pretty nice term right there. We've dealt with coming back from losses and things like that and we've dealt with long losing streaks and things like that, but it's been almost 11 months since we had to go into a locker room after a game and not be on the right side of the score. So there is something to that.
"We need to remember how it feels to lose; we don't need to be losing very often, but you know, maybe there is an edge you can get from that. We don't need any worries about talking about being 6-0, I mean obviously we're not, we're 5-1. We don't need to talk about anything other than the Atlanta Falcons and moving on to that game; have a good week of preparation and getting back on track."
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