Michael Vick, there's no need to apologize. Wave that middle finger proudly. Anybody can point the index finger in the air after a sack or a three-yard run or a meaningless regular-season victory; we see that all too often as is. But it takes a certain amount of courage and attitude to raise your middle digit to tell the world how you really feel. The attitude runs in the family, too. Vick's younger brother, Marcus, set a precedent by offering an obscene gesture to West Virginia fans during a Virginia Tech victory in 2005.
So, we welcome you to a famous club that includes Johnny Cash, former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and, of course, this list of notables from the world of sports:
Billy unleashed more than a few F-bombs on umpires, players and marshmallow salesmen during his tumultuous managerial career. He also posed for his 1972 Topps card while manager of the Tigers with a certain digit exposed, forever corrupting an entire generation of 9-year-olds.
Before a 1993 game against the Bills, the emotional Dolphins linebacker had spent the week talking about his hatred for Buffalo. As he entered the field, angry Bills fans greeted Cox with some unkind words. Cox responded with a double-barrelled salute that was captured on national televison. The NFL fined him 10 grand.
In 1977 with the Cardinals, Templeton had become the youngest shortstop of the 20th century to record 200 hits in a season. But by 1981, his star had begun to fade, he asked for a trade, and that August fans in St. Louis booed him for not running out a ground ball. Templeton fired back with a series of obscene gestures. In the end, it all worked out for the Cardinals: They traded Templeton that winter for Ozzie Smith. While the incident forever saddled Templeton with a bad-boy reputation, he actually became a fine citizen with the Padres, although he never matched his early production with the Cardinals.
|• Michael Vick apologizes for gesture|
No, Ditka did not salute ESPN The Magazine editors for making him pose with Ricky Williams while his running back was wearing a wedding dress. As head coach of the Saints in 1999, Ditka unloaded on home fans during and after a loss to the Titans. Ditka flipped off a group of fans on the way to the locker room at halftime and gave a gratuitous crotch grab to another group after the game. The Saints fined him $20,000.
The Cleveland punter forever earned the adoration of Browns fans when he flipped off Bill Cowher during a 2000 game. (He apparently was miffed after Joey Porter had knocked him silly with a vicious block. Yes, hard to believe that Porter would drill a punter. But we digress.) With the incident caught on camera, Gardocki was fined $5,000. Apparently, Gardocki didn't attend anger management classes: Two years later, after a late go-ahead field goal (he was the holder), he taunted the opposing team, leading to a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff, which helped the Chiefs kick the game-winning field goal. And thus, Gardocki forever lost the adoration of Browns fans.
The former Red Sox pitcher gave a one-finger greeting to the fans at Fenway during introductions before a playoff game against the A's in 2003. He later realized the global implications of the gesture and apologized "to the fans of the Red Sox, the people of New England and baseball fans throughout the world."
Csonka was caught on a 1972 cover of Sports Illustrated discreetly flipping the bird. Check the grin on his face. Priceless.
The Orioles shortstop flipped the bird to a fan in Toronto back in August after striking out during a loss to the Blue Jays. Tejada apologized for the gesture and avoided a suspension that would have ended his consecutive games-played streak at 1,033.
Iverson saluted Milwaukee fans with a single digit in November 2003 and was slapped with a $10,000 fine. "I made a mistake and I deserve it," Iverson said at the time. We say: Stand by your convictions.
After the White Sox pounded the Yankees right-hander for 13 hits and nine runs in 4 2/3 in a July 1995 game, McDowell displays his middle finger to the crowd as they boo him while he walks off the field. The next day's tabloids had the perfect headline: The Yankee Flipper.
While there are many Broncos fans right now who would like to give Plummer a Mile High Salute, the Broncos quarterback made a nifty behind-the-helmet bird flip to the home fans during a victory to earn a $5,000 fine by the NFL in December 2004. He later apologized, but explained, "I'm not a robot. I'm a man that has warm blood and sometimes it gets hot in there running through my veins."
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