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Disciplinary Action

Titans coordinator flips ref, fined $40K



Week 4: Titans at Broncos

Titans defensive coordinator found "one" penalty he disagreed with. Credit: NFL/CBS Sports

Titans defensive coordinator found "one" penalty he disagreed with. Credit: NFL/CBS Sports(

(Updated Monday at the end of the article)

Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil was adamant in his displeasure over a call announced by referee Clete Blakeman in the first quarter against the Broncos. Problem is, he flipped a middle-fingered salute which was caught live by CBS cameras. (The referees did not see the gesture, so there was no penalty. If they had, it only would have resulted in a 1½-yard half-distance penalty being marked off.)

Announcer Kevin Harlan amusingly brushed it off as Cecil’s “Hawaiian peace sign,” but it might now be more associated with Nashville, as Titans owner Bud Adams gave a two-barreled salute to the Bills sideline last season. Adams, who is held to a higher standard by the league as an owner, was fined a quarter-million dollars for his birdies.

Pro Football Talk pointed out that the fine for Cecil could run into the six figure level, judging from Adams’ fine and a fine against Jets coach Rex Ryan. The flippy digit from Ryan came during a non-football event, and it still cost him $50,000. Being that Cecil did his during a broadcast event, and because he allegedly has a league conduct violation from a DUI arrest, the fine will likely be at least doubled. (Update: Cecil was fined $20,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct against a game official in December 2009.) Adams’ fine came early Monday morning after his Sunday afternoon game, and so swift judgment is expected here, too.

All for a neutral zone infraction which really made no difference, as the Broncos easily scored on the next play on first and goal.

(Update 10/4: As we guessed, the NFL was quick to administer a fine in this situation. According to Jim Wyatt at the Tennesseean, Cecil was fined $40,000, less than Ryan was fined by the NFL for conduct at a non-NFL event.)

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)