After a game that Adrian Peterson was questionable to appear due to accidentally swallowing chewing tobacco, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was shown by Fox cameras appearing to put in a chew as his team beat the Lions. Earlier in the day, Fox officiating expert Mike Pereira said that players are not permitted by NFL general appearance rules to chew tobacco during games.
It’s unclear if this policy also applies to coaches, and whether the rule ends at the final whistle. We are reaching out to the league for clarification, and will update this post if/when they respond.
UPDATE: An NFL spokesman passed along the policy:
NFL players, coaches, and other employees must not endorse or appear in advertisements for alcoholic beverages (including beer) or tobacco products. While fully recognizing that the use of alcohol and tobacco is legal, the NFL nevertheless has long been of the view that participation in ads for such substances by its employees may have a detrimental effect on the great number of young fans who follow our game. In particular, endorsements or other close identification of NFL players with alcohol or tobacco could convey the erroneous impression that the use of such products is conducive to the development of athletic prowess, has contributed to their success, or at least has not hindered them in their performance.
For the above reasons, players and other club and League employees (including game officials) must not use alcohol or tobacco products while in the playing field area or while being interviewed on television. Further, NFL policy prohibits the use or presence of alcoholic beverages, including beer, in club locker rooms at any time during the preseason, regular season, or postseason, including during the practice week and on game day.
It would seem as though Zimmer was in violation of this policy, but we probably won’t know for certain until later this week.