By Will Brinson
Way back in October, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was fined $10,000 for talking on his cell phone during a game. Polamalu was on the phone with his wife, telling her was OK health-wise, which is why Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believed the safety shouldn't be fined.
The NFL didn't care, and fined Polamalu anyway. But happy news today as Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network reports that Polamalu won his appeal of the fine and was notified of his win by the league on Thursday.
According to league rules, usage of electronic equipment on the sideline (or, in the bench area, if you prefer) is illegal up to 90 minutes before games until the end of game. (It's why players can't tweet during games either.)
Obviously Polamalu's communication with his wife was a matter of alerting her that he was physically safe so the league is providing an exception to the rule here. There's some argument that allowing such an exception could create an easy excuse for players who want to use electronics on the sideline.
A few problems with that logic: there has to be some concern for the health of an individual who wants to use electronics for that excuse to apply. Polamalu was fined anyway, so the player in question would likely need proof that an emergency contact/immediate family member was called/texted/tweeted. And finally, the advantage of using a cell phone on the sidelines is pretty minimal.
All that being said, the league would be smart to bring something like this before the competition committee in the offseason and determine a way that a team with an injured player can provide an alert to family members who aren't at the game and might be concerned with the health of the player in question.
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