Steve Tasker, perhaps the greatest gunner in NFL history, had an interesting response to the theory the New York Jets instruct their players to defend their sideline on punt returns:
Tasker was not offended by the idea and essentially said he appreciated it -- even though he handled the role that would be most impacted by the practice.
"No question, you're not supposed to trip someone, but I think this is an overreaction," Tasker told ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini. "This isn't stealing signs or illegal taping or somebody sabotaging something. It was just a guy, reacting."
The NFL implemented the so-called Steve Tasker rule, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to deter gunners from intentionally running out of bounds to avoid a press.
Dolphins safety Reshad Jones was flagged for the Tasker rule two punts before Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi stuck his knee into Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll, creating a firestorm of controversy.
"You think this is the first time [a trip] ever happened? Come on," Tasker said. "Guys were always giving me extra shoves. You don't want to see someone get hurt, but it's not a big deal. Why wouldn't you give a guy a forearm shiver? Everyone on the sideline is part of a team and they all want to win. Shoot, even the doctors are competitive.
"If [the Jets] are coached to do that, so what? Call a penalty on them. If a gunner is going to use the sideline as a weapon, like I did, why wouldn't you want to form a road block? There's nothing wrong with that as long as it's within the rules."