Four Ravens fined by the NFL

OWINGS MILLS -- A quartet of Baltimore Ravens were punished by the NFL for verbally abusing officials and publicly questioning their integrity with fines levied against linebacker Bart Scott, cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister and wide receiver Derrick Mason.

Scott was hit the hardest with a $25,000 fine issued Friday for arguing with officials and angrily throwing an official's flag into the stands during the Ravens' 27-24 loss Monday night to the New England Patriots. Rolle, McAlister and Mason were fined $15,000 apiece for making critical remarks against referee Walt Anderson's crew.

"This is about the importance of sportsmanship and respecting the integrity of our game," said Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. "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's comment is a mild rebuke of head linesman Phil McKinnely's conduct.

Rolle accused McKinnely of repeatedly calling him 'boy,' and telling him to shut up during the game.

NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira acknowledged that did transpire, but said it didn't occur in the context that Rolle described. He added that he had no problem with how McKinnely reacted, given the heated circumstances.

Anderson met with Scott and Rolle on Thursday at the Ravens' training complex to clear the air.

"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 Friday following his meeting with Anderson. "It's definitely something for me to learn from and grow from and be an advocate speaker for great conduct."

Ravens coach Brian Billick said the team has learned from the experience, and debunked a few conspiracy theories that have been floated that New England supposedly receives preferential treatment from the officials due to its undefeated status.

Billick emphasized that the team isn't going to fight the fines.

"To intimate that the Patriots are given some kind of favoritism is ridiculous," Billick said. "That's just not the case. Our league works very hard to make sure the officiating is top-notch and obviously unbiased. I was probably remiss after the game in not counseling the players better about the frustrations that I knew existed.

"Clearly, both sides needed to conduct themselves better. We all have culpability, mine included, and I should have made sure they understood that they needed to curb their passions after the game in any comments they might have made about the officiating."

According to the NFL rulebook, players are prohibited from any physical contact with game officials. The league also bars team personnel from verbal or other non-physical abuse of officials as well as public criticism of their integrity.

"Last Monday'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."

Among the statements the Ravens made that crossed the line in the league's opinion: "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, and they want them to win. Obviously, the refs, they're horrible. They made a lot of bad calls."

"It's a travesty when you go out there and play that hard and the refs decide the outcome," Rolle said. "Nobody really likes us because we earned the reputation we have, but you have to let the players play, man. They are a great team. They're not asking the refs to help them, but it's just an empty feeling."

Added Mason: "It's kind of like that old Bulls team when they were running the table. You were playing against Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the bunch and it was hard to beat them because everyone was on their side. That's the way it is now. You've got Brady and the bunch. It's hard to beat them when you're playing against them and extra people."

Moving forward, Billick said he hopes this is now a closed issue and that the Ravens will learn from the experience.

Billick added that the meeting with Anderson, who used to be his agent, was beneficial. "It could have been handled better," said Billick, referring to the entire episode. "I think we'll learn from it. Those two guys [Rolle and Scott] in particular, their emotions got the better of them. I don't know that anybody would classify those guys as lacking character. They lost their temper. They should have handled it better."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital..

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