In the aftermath of the NFL Referees Association's complaint about coaches approaching refs without face coverings on, the league reminded teams that they could be penalized for such actions.
Specifically, the NFLRA took issue with Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh yelling at a referee with his facemask pulled down during a Week 3 tilt.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that NFL senior VP of officiating Perry Fewell sent a memo to teams on Friday informing clubs that officials have been told, "if an individual not wearing a face covering approaches them inappropriately, they have the authority to take administrative or officiating action."
Such action includes a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as possible fines, suspensions and forfeiture of draft picks.
Several NFL coaches have been fined this year for failure to properly wear a mask throughout a contest, but none specifically for addressing a referee sans face covering.
The memo in full, obtained by Pelissero:
"As a follow-up to Troy Vincent's memos, dated September 14th and 20th, regarding compliance with the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19-related protocols, this serves as a reminder that all individuals must keep their masks in place when interacting with game officials on the field. We have seen multiple occasions where head coaches have removed their masks to communicate with game officials during games. Doing so creates unnecessary, increased risk for the game official, the head coach, and others, and is inconsistent with the requirement that face coverings be worn at all times.
"Please be vigilant in your efforts to comply with the face covering and physical distancing requirements as you interact with game officials. Consistent with all other individuals on the sideline, game officials are entitled to your respect as they perform their job duties during the pandemic. Failure to adhere to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19-related protocols will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs, including fines, suspensions of persons involved, and/or the forfeiture of a draft choice(s). Additionally, we have reminded game officials that if an individual not wearing a face covering approaches them inappropriately, they have the authority to take administrative or officiating action, including a 15-yard penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct."