On December 23, 2007, Jerome Boger’s crew allowed Warren Sapp to beat the traffic to the mall and get his Christmas shopping done early.
In a bizarre sequence of events, Sapp totally lost his composure, the Oakland Raiders were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct four times, with three of the fouls assigned to Sapp.
With just a few seconds left in the first half in a game in Jacksonville, the officials called the Jaguars for illegal hands to the face. Boger’s crew followed proper procedure and quickly declined the penalty, forcing a fourth down and a 43-yard field goal attempt for Jacksonville.
But, the Raiders told the officials they wanted to accept the penalty, to push the Jaguars out of field goal range. Sapp and the Raiders were miffed that the officials made the decision before a final consultation. This is standard procedure for fast penalty enforcement. The officials changed the enforcement making it third and long for the Jaguars.
Even though the officials did everything expected of them, the Raiders were offended and took it out on Boger’s crew of umpire Garth DeFelice, head linesman Jerry Bergman Jr., line judge Jeff Bergman, side judge Joe Larrew, back judge Bob Waggoner, and field judge Scott Steenson.
Sapp and teammate Derrick Burgess picked up the first two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. But, Sapp was just getting started. He continued to argue and was flagged for two more unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. Line judge Jeff Bergman ejected Sapp at that point. Raiders coaches had to take Sapp off the field.
This ejection happened before the two strikes and you’re out unsportsmanlike conduct rule. I can’t recall many other times when a player was ejected for excessive arguing only, but Sapp just lost control of himself. Sapp later claimed that he was told by the crew that he was ejected for bumping DeFelice, but he fervently denied that assertion.
By rule, the Jaguars foul was assessed, and then all four unsportsmanlike conduct fouls were assessed between downs. Fouls against an official are not combined with others to create a decline or offset situation.
At the time of the ejection, the Jaguars lead the Raiders 28-3. The Jaguars won the game 49-11.
Kudos to the officials, especially Boger for keeping control of the situation, including Boger’s calm announcements. How would you like a man twice your size calling you every name in the book?