As Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean pointed out on Sunday, Titans owner Bud Adams capped his team’s 41-17 win over the Bills by shooting a couple of middle fingers in the direction of the Buffalo sideline. (Or maybe he saw Floyd Reese’s wife sitting in the stands on the other side of the stadium.)
Here’s the video of the moment.
Sure, it’s funny to see an 86-year-old man paying homage to the New York state bird. Indeed, we like the idea that, if the Guy Upstairs lets us live that long, we might still have enough passion to fire off a periodic obscene gesture at someone other than the kid on our lawn.
But the league office needs to treat this no differently than it would treat a player who has done the same thing. In past years, Jake Plummer was fined $5,000 for shooting a one-fingered salute at the crowd, and kicker Joe Nedney more recently was slapped with a $7,500 penalty for the same thing.
And who can forget Mike Vick’s heartwarming gesture to folks at the Georgia Dome who were jeering him after a subpar performance in 2006? Vick was slapped with a $10,000 fine, and he donated another $10,000 to charity.
The league arguably could distinguish Adams’ situation by taking the position that he was directing the message not to the paying customers but to the opponents. Even that would be a stretch, however. At a time when there’s already a perception that the league treats players differently than non-players when it comes to the imposition of discipline, Adams should be asked to write a check in the amount of $10,000.
Heck, he’d probably say it was worth it. And given the “cred” that it has given him with football fans, he might even do it again.