According to reports yesterday, the Miami Dolphins have removed former Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons from the suspended list after the 11th-year veteran went AWOL a week and a half ago, which prompted him to miss his first regular season game with his new team.
But one wonders if that is truly the end of the story—and in this case, but one, I actually mean Mike Florio, who caught on to the report that Timmons visited with the Steelers while he was displaced by Hurricane Irma and was back in Pittsburgh a week before he went missing.
Florio writes that head coach Mike Tomlin was aware of Timmons coming to visit the team. Jason LaCanfora, the original source of the report, wrote that he “was allowed into the team facility and watched at least part of practice from the sidelines”. I have read elsewhere that Tomlin told him he had to leave practice.
Given his potential presence at practice, Florio wonders if this might prompt an investigation on the grounds of tampering, writing, “the league’s tampering policy doesn’t expressly address situations like this, stating only that a team cannot permit a player under contract with another team to ‘use’ its facilities, including the weight room, training facilities, practice fields, running tracks, etc.”.
He went on to write that “even if the Dolphins don’t cry foul, the situation is sufficiently unusual and potentially close to the line to make a league-office investigation into the situation reasonable and justified”, adding that a report that he told teammates he wanted to return to the Steelers could make it even more likely.
Personally, it seems rather unlikely from my perspective that anything would come of this, though I have been wrong before. I don’t think that tampering investigations come up very often around the league, and I wouldn’t imagine that the Steelers would have much to gain from a competitive advantage standpoint by having Timmons on the sideline for a practice session.
One would think that the player from the other team would be far more in violation of a tampering charge, since they would be able to report back what they saw to their team. But the fact that Timmons went missing and reportedly talked about wanting to be back with the Steelers, as Florio mentioned, does complicate the narrative.
Regardless of what ultimately happens, I think it’s fair to say that for most of us at least, Timmons is always going to be an important and relevant part of Steelers history, so when something is going on with him, it is in a way going on with the team.
I really wouldn’t expect that this incident would prompt an investigation of any kind, but even if it did, it would likely amount to very little. His presence at the Steelers’ facility was a social call, not a business one—at least, for as far as we can now.