Lost amidst the finger-pointing at the Cincinnati Bengals' utter collapse at the end of their playoff loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers is the strange actions by Steelers linebackers coach and former player Joey Porter.
As Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was being tended to by trainers and staff of the Steelers, Porter came on the field. As Brown was being led off the field by said trainers, Porter lingered in the middle of the field and chattered with an official and some Bengals.
Either or both team attendants and their helpers may enter the field to attend their team during a team timeout by either team. No other non-player may come on the field without the Referee's permission, unless he is an incoming substitute (5-2-2).
During any team timeout, all playing rules continue in force. Representatives of either team are prohibited from entering the field unless they are incoming substitutes, or team attendants or trainers entering to provide for the welfare of a player, and any game-type activities are prohibited on the Field of Play.
Not even head coaches are allowed on the field.
Porter is not a trainer for the Steelers, he's a linebackers coach. Is it possible Porter obtained permission from an official to come onto the field in a heated game between two rivals? Unlikely.
If he did get permission, there should be big questions about that too. He's not a trainer, and it was the Steelers offense that was on the field, not the defense. So why would a defensive coach and former player like Porter, in a heated game like that, be allowed on the field?
Beyond Porter's presence on the field, his insertion into a huddle of Bengals players was totally inappropriate. He wasn't keeping his players from a scuffle, he was starting one. Mind you, the rule makes it clear why he could possibly have conceivably been given permission to enter the field: "to provide for the welfare of a player." That doesn't include talking to the opposing team as the injured player is being helped off the field behind you.
In addition, it was Porter's presence that led to Adam Jones' dead-ball personal foul, giving the Steelers a 35-yard field goal to win the game. If Jones got flagged, it's hard to understand why a non-player with no business on the field was not. This certainly seems like a foul by Porter that should have drawn a 15-yard penalty, particularly in a game featuring such hatred between the two teams.
Cyd Zeigler is a high school and college football official in Los Angeles. He is also the co-founder of SBNation's Outsports.com.