Birds of a Pricey Feather: The Most Expensive Flip-Offs of the Last 20 Years
"It's the same old story, same old song and dance." - Aerosmith
Stop me if you've heard this one before: A loudmouthed athlete forgets decorum and unleashes a Bird Bomb on an unsuspecting victim.
Now while this topic has been covered in greater detail here, this list will mainly focus on the fines themselves.
And Now a Word from the Flippers of Yesteryear
Before we begin, I just wanted to highlight that not every bird deserves a fine.
Here are two cases that escaped the NFL's Obscenity Fine dragnet, but for very different reasons.
Take a look at the SI cover to your left, where Larry Csonka not only rocks a killer 'stache, but an eye for subtle obscenities.
I've seen this cover a million times before, and it wasn't until I started doing research for this piece that I finally understood just what in the hell Csonka and Jim Kiick were laughing at.
"No Name? I Got yer No Name Right Here!"
Other birds are as overt as can be, but are simply negated by the amount of badassery that the perpetrator wields.
Now observe the photo of Mike Ditka. Do you see that little squib in the empty space? That's an autograph, which can only mean two things:
A.) There's an entire factory in Bangladesh dedicated to printing out 8x10 glossy's of this incident for Ditka to sign, and
B.) There is now a market for these sorts of images.
When you can pay off your fine with the profits from your offense, you've just crossed over into the Land of Awesome.
8. Chris Gardocki
The When and Where: Sept, 17, 2000, at Cleveland Browns Stadium
The Why: Peeved at being manhandled by Jerry Porter, Browns' Punter Chris Gardocki decides to show his gratitude to Bill Cowher.
The Fallout: Gardocki would wind up a Steeler just four years later, where he won a Super Bowl title in 2006.
The Fine: $5,000, or $2500 for each bird -- the lowest on this list, proving again that no one cares about punters, even when they're going postal.
7. Jake Plummer
The When and Where: Dec. 12, 2004 at INVESCO Field
The Why: After being picked off in a game between the Broncos and Miami Dolphins, Jake Plummer offered a jeering fan a reminder that it was only the first quarter.
Plummer would lead the Broncos to a 20-17 win.
The Fallout: At the time, Plummer was swapping hair care tips with Larry Csonka from a few slides ago. Csonka chided "The Snake" for getting caught in the act, and the Porn 'Stache hasn't been popular since.
The Fine: $5,000
6. Joe Nedney
The When and Where: Oct.. 31, 2007, at Candlestick Park
The Why: Hecklers bring out the best in our jocks. Their drunken banter is what fuels almost all of the entrants on this list to purposely burn the money in their wallet.
Of course, this case is no different.
The Fallout: Prior to joining the 49ers, Nedney had kicked for seven different teams. He is now in his sixth year in the Bay Area, which should constitute as Cruel and Unusual Punishment by now.
The Fine: $7,500, which ought to REALLY irk Chris Gardocki.
5. Michael Vick
The When and Where: Nov. 27, 2006, at the Georgia Dome
The Why: Hecklers. Vick. No need for a dog joke. Or a Ron Mexico one, either. Sometimes, a bird is simply a bird for a bird's sake.
The Fallout: A Comedy of Errors performed by a Confederacy of Dunce. That's "Dunce" in singular form.
The Fine: $10,000
4. Bryan Cox
The When and Where: Sept. 26, 1993, at Ralph Wilson Stadium
The Why: Bryan Cox will never be "Employee of the Month." That said, the double-bird in this case might be a victim to cultural insensitivity on the part of the NFL.
During the Dolphins/Bills rivalry, it wasn't just the custom greeting between the two, it was painted on the "Welcome to" signs outside each cities' limits.
The Fallout: The Dolphins would sputter through 1993, finishing 9-7 while the Bills made their fourth consecutive Super Bowl. Bryan Cox later apologized for the Bird being seen "beyond his intended audience." I.E., he was sorry the TV cameras caught it.
The children and mothers in the stadium were fair game, though.
The Fine: $10,000
3. Mike Ditka
The When and Where: Oct. 17, 1999, at the Super Dome
The Why: After a close loss to the Tennessee Titans, Ditka lost what little composure he hadn't traded for Ricky Williams when he flipped off a fan on his way to the locker room.
The Fallout: We know WHY Ditka did it, but it was still heartbreaking to see this Larger-than-Life persona fall to such lows. Click back to the second slide on this list. Look at how Ditka drops the bird in plain view with little regard for anyone.
That's the Sean Connery of Obscenity, man.
This? This was more like the Gary Busey of Middle Fingers: Rambling, aimless, and irrelevant. Ditka would be gone from the Saints by year's end.
The Fine: $20,000
2. Rex Ryan
The When and Where: Jan. 30, 2010 in Miami, Fla.
The Why: Still wrestling with the fact that his Jets aren't the best team in the known multiverse, Ryan unleashed on the Miami crowd first by verbally taunting them, then by nearly causing a riot.
The Fallout: Ryan was quick to apologize for his actions, but it's the words of Dean Wormer from Animal House that puts a slab of raw steak on this shiner of a tale:
"Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
The Fine: $50,000
1. Bud Adams
The When and Where: Nov. 15, 2009 at Ralph Wilson Stadium
The Why: Bud Adams proves that you're never too old to be an obnoxious prick by setting the Buffalo faithful's morale on fire and pissing on the ashes. When T.O.'s in the building, and you're still the most obscene guy around, you've got a sac as big Vince Young's head.
The Fallout: Tennessee won its third straight game, propelling them from an 0-6 start to within a hair of the playoffs. Buffalo released head coach Dick Jauron two days later...presumably because he failed to motivate T.O. into upstaging Adams by crapping in the Gatorade jug.
The Fine: A hefty $250,000