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Patriots’ Belichick May Be Next After NFL Fines for Fox, Del Rio

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick could learn as early as today whether he’ll be fined by the National Football League for grabbing the arm of a replacement official after his team’s loss two days ago.

The NFL said yesterday it was investigating the incident involving Belichick, as well as cases in which Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had disputes with officials.

The league yesterday issued a $30,000 fine to Denver Broncos coach John Fox and a $25,000 discipline on assistant Jack Del Rio for verbally abusing officials in a Sept. 17 loss to Atlanta. The NFL told teams on Sept. 20 that it wouldn’t tolerate abuse of substitute officials working games during the lockout of the NFL Referees Association.

Three weeks of the regular season have been played and backup officials have drawn heavy criticism for their performance the past two weeks. Belichick, Harbaugh and Shanahan yesterday apologized for their actions two days ago.

Belichick grabbed the arm of an official as the teams left the field following New England’s 31-30 loss to the Ravens. He said yesterday he was trying to get an explanation as to whether a game-winning field goal by the Ravens -- in which the football flew directly over the right goalpost -- would be reviewed.

Clean Record

“I’ve coached in this league a long time and never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials,” Belichick said. “I have never meant any disrespect or in any way tried to abuse or be disrespectful to the officials and the job that they do. I was just trying to get an explanation for obviously an important play.”

Shanahan, the son of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct with seven seconds remaining in a 38-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The penalty occurred when he was trying to get an explanation from an official who erroneously told the Redskins the game was over because a false-start penalty would mean a 10-second clock runoff, Shanahan said in a statement of apology.

“I was frustrated and, in the process of trying to get some answers from the officials, I conducted myself in the wrong way,” Shanahan said. “I ask our players to hold themselves to a high standard and be accountable and I know that I’m accountable for my actions as well.”

Harbaugh was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth quarter after bumping an official while trying to get his attention to call a timeout.

“I didn’t mean to bump him,” Harbaugh said after the game. “I wanted to call a timeout.”

Harbaugh in 2010 was fined $15,000 by the NFL for touching an official while demonstrating where linebacker Terrell Suggs hit then-Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer on a roughing-the-passer penalty.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was involved in the negotiations with the referees’ union two days ago, ESPN said, citing unidentified people familiar with the talks. The two sides still have significant differences, ESPN said.

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