Richard Sherman was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct after making a choking gesture at the end of Seattle’s win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Sherman received a hefty fine of $7,857 for the act, and the fallout after the league confirmed the fine has been mixed, with some saying Sherman deserved what he got and others saying that such stunts are part of the game of football.
Tensions run high in a championship game, especially between two powerhouse division rivals like the Seahawks and the 49ers. What else, the game ended on a Colin Kaepernick interception that Sherman deflected, intended for receiver Michael Crabtree who had some less-than-flattering things to say about Sherman before the game.
While it is known that taunting and showing off is a part of any sport, do league officials overreact to certain players’ actions on and off the field? Where is the line drawn between what is acceptable and what is not? And who decides that and what makes them qualified to hold such power?
As professionals, theses men are expected to uphold certain values. There is room for fun and gloating during these games because, lets face it, it’s a part of every sport. But in cases when impressionable young children and athletes see theses stunts and decide to act them out themselves, we then look back to their role models who chose to act in such away, well aware of the public eye hanging over them. With that being said, here are the Top 10 Fines for Unsportsmanlike Conduct in the NFL.
10 Randy Moss, $10,000
During a game against the rival Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss pretended to pull down his pants and “mooned” the Packers crowd. The incident followed Moss’ game winning touchdown catch and he (Moss) was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct during his celebration. After he was fined, NFL Network analyst and Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders compared Moss to a “beautiful woman who can’t cook, doesn’t want to clean and doesn’t want to take care of kids,” going on to say that you have to take the good with the bad when dealing with players like Moss.
9 Samari Rolle, $12,500
After intercepting New York Jets QB Chad Pennington's pass in the end zone in the first quarter of the Titans’ 24-17 loss to the Jets, Titans cornerback Samari Rolle was fined $12,500 by the league for making a throat-slash gesture. Afterwards, Rolle stated that he’d appeal the fine and criticized the league's handling of the matter, saying "I'm pushing $20,000 by some people who've never run out of a tunnel before and don't know the emotions that the game is played under." Rolle went on to say that the league was “taking the fun away” from the game. 10 years later, Richard Sherman would get fined close to half of what Rolle was fined for making similar gestures after a game.
8 Stevie Johnson, $20,000
The Buffalo Bills wide receiver was fined on two separate occasions for mimicking the use of firearms as touchdown celebrations. First, after scoring a touchdown during the Bills’ 38-30 loss against the rival New England Patriots on October 1st 2010, and again the following year when he mimicked shooting himself in the thigh during a touchdown celebration. Johnson received a fine of $10,000 for each incident. The latter was a shot at then Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress who’d spent 20 months in prison after accidentally shooting himself at a New York nightclub. Johnson went on to say “it was a bad decision” and that it “cost our team seven points.”
7 T-5. Joe Horn, $30,000
After taking out a cell phone to make a call on national TV, Saints receiver Joe Horn was fined $30,000 by the league. The stunt seemed thought-out, as teammate and return specialist Michael Lewis took the phone from the padding of the goalpost and handed Horn the phone, which he reportedly used to phone home. "I had told my kids to be at home, watching the game, and I told my momma, 'Mom, if I score the second one, I'm going to get my cell phone out.'” The stunt resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, enforced on the ensuing kickoff, but the Saints who were up 17-7 at that point went on to win the game by the same score.
6 T-5. Chad Ochocinco & Terrell Owens, $30,000
As social media has grown in popularity over the last several years, it has also given pro athletes an outlet of sorts where communicating and interacting with fans has become possible in ways that would have seemed almost unimaginable 10-20 years ago. While they were both teammates with the Cincinnati Bengals, both Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco were fined for “tweeting” too close to game time. On October 15th 2010 Owens was fined $5,000 for tweeting one hour before the game. Two months prior, Owens’ teammate Chad Ochocinco was fined $25,000 for tweeting as well. The league's rules on the use of cell phones, computers or other electronic equipment by players and coaches make it that their use is prohibited from 90 minutes before and through to the end of the game.
5 T-5. Brandon Jacobs, $30,000
After a loss against the rival Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs started yelling at fans. The incident was observed by an NFL security representative and Jacobs was fined $20,000 for making obscene gestures and yelling obscenities towards the fans. Two months before that, Jacobs was fined $10,000 for tossing his helmet into the stands during a 38-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Jacobs claimed the helmet slipped out of his hands and called the incident “a mistake.” The fan got a hold of Jacobs’ helmet said he was “eager” to see what actions the NFL would take with Jacobs and that “there was extreme potential for serious injury with the velocity and where that helmet landed.”
4 Terrell Owens, $35,000
During a Saturday night Cowboys-Falcons game, Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens spit in the face of Falcons corner DeAngelo Hall. Although Owens was fined $35,000, he was not suspended which did not sit well with Hall who called the act “vulgar”. Owens refused to apologize and after initially admitting that he did in fact purposely spit on Hall, he went on to claim it was an accident the next day. Former Washington Redskins QB Joe Theismann thought Owens should have been suspended while former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin said that the league “should not suspend T.O. just because he’s T.O.”
3 Rex Ryan, $75,000
Jets head coach Rex Ryan is known for having a bit of a mouth on him, and that mouth has written a couple of rather large checks on more than a few occasions. Ryan used profanity to angrily respond to a fan at halftime of a Patriots-Jets game where New York lost 37-16. Ryan was previously fined $50,000 for flipping off a fan at a MMA event. Ryan is known around the league as a trash talker and sometimes his mouth gets him and his team into trouble. When speaking about the incident, Ryan said “I know I represent the NFL and I know I represent the Jets, so I’m accountable for my actions.”
2 Bryan Cox, $87,500
Officials aren’t the most well-liked guys on the field. During Bryan Cox’s first year with the Bears, he was fined $87,500 for making obscene gestures and cursing towards field judge Bill Smith, as well as throwing his helmet during the game. He was later ejected and presented with the hefty fine by the league.
1 Eddie DeBartolo Jr., $1 Million
Edward DeBartolo Jr. was the owner of the San Francisco 49ers from 1977 to 2000. During his time as owner the 49ers won five Super Bowls under Bill Walsh and George Seifert, and DeBartolo became one of the most beloved owners in the league and among his players. However, in 1998 DeBartolo was fined $1 million and suspended one year for his involvement in the corruption case of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, who was on trial for extortion. In 2000, DeBartolo passed control of the 49ers on to his sister Marie Denise DeBartolo York, who had previously been the president of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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