During Sunday’s tilt in Oakland between the Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers, some angry birds were flying around the Raiders bench.
Not the video game, rather defensive coordinator Jason Tarver flipping the obscene gesture.
Tarver flipped the bird in the direction of the game’s referees twice after an illegal hit to a defenseless receiver penalty, which was overturned.
In a tweet, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the team would be disciplining Tarver in-house:
Raiders, not NFL, are expected to impose discipline on defensive coordinator Jason Tarver for his obscene gesture during Sunday's win.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 28, 2013
The league could still fine Tarver, though any actions from the Raiders may dull any league sanctions.
Tarver issued an apology saying:
“I apologize for my action on the sideline of yesterday’s game. It was in the heat of the moment and I regret drawing attention away from the Raiders players and what they accomplished.’’
Tarver certainly did steal some thunder from a very impressive Raiders win, one that was reinforced by very strong defensive play.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen addressed the media Monday:
“I don’t know if it’s one of those things you just say, ‘Let’s forget about it.’ “Listen, he’s made his statement about what’s happened. I think the only thing I’ll say is I think he’s done an outstanding job with this defense. I think he’s a fiery and emotional guy and I think our players have really taken to that, and I think they’ve embraced that type of attitude and he has the defense playing at a high level right now.”
It’s unclear what disciplinary measures the team will take, though the league generally doles out fines, suspensions and other punishments on Tuesdays.
Fox rules analyst and former NFL official Mike Pereira was perhaps the most outspoken critic of Tarver following Sunday’s incident, and was prompted to write a column. In it, he says:
“It showed up on national television and the NFL doesn’t take kindly to gestures like this. So we’ll see what transpires when the league reviews it. The interesting part, despite Tarver’s tirade towards the officials … and his unprofessionalism, the officials did the right thing and picked up a flag and it wasn’t a foul against the Raiders.”
The Raiders have long been one of the NFL’s most penalized teams — specifically on defense — and Tarver had been working to change that. This year Oakland has only been flagged for 20 defensive penalties according to nflpenalties.com.
It’s no coincidence that the Raiders’ defensive turnaround began in Tarver’s second year. His nickname, “the mad scientist,” comes not so much because of his ingenious development of a defensive chart that costs under $27 million, but rather because he earned a degree in biochemistry from Santa Clara University.
The Raiders would hope that Tarver can use some of those smarts in the future — thinking a bit more before acting.