The NFL can find a better player to fine than Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. This pattern has repeated itself throughout history.
Okay, so this should have been said some time ago, but fining the Buccaneers Antoine Winfield Jr. for showing the peace sign to Tyreek Hill in the Super Bowl was nothing short of ludicrous. Had it been the Highway One sign, then perhaps a fine would be in order. But no one was hurt by Winfield’s riposte to the same sign Hill planted on him during the Bucs-Chiefs regular-season game. In fact, it was serving Hill his just desserts.
Sorry, but that is just gamesmanship and doesn’t really fall anywhere near what a player in this person’s NFL ought to be fined for. But then, the NFL doesn’t have any problem doling out fines for things that are more comic than foul, personal or not.
For instance, when Warren Sapp grazed the water cups on the Miami Dolphins sidelines in a game decades ago, he was merely trying to quench his thirst. And yet, the NFL saw fit to make an example of the old Bucs bad guy. Later, in the post-game interviews, Sapp casually told the reporters, “I was thirsty.”
How in heaven’s name does that merit a fine?
Now, back during the earlier Super Bowl XXXVII run, t’was a divisional game against San Francisco in which Ronde Barber, foreshadowing the pick-six he had in Philadelphia, nabbed a Jeff Garcia pass and ran it back 60 yards for a touchdown. But that got called back for a holding call on Simeon Rice.
In the replay, the iso-shot on Rice showed him bulldogging the left tackle by his facemask and slinging him to the ground. Fined? Fine. But from the Bucs perspective, the fine was more about pulling points of the scoreboard, not for his physical actions, really. But then again, the final score was 31-6, with San Fran scoring only on a pair of Jeff Chandler field goals.
And, Garcia was picked three times anyway, with Derrick Brooks, Dwight Smith, and Ronde Barber doing the damage. The old school Bucs also managed to drag Garcia down four times, once each by the aforementioned Rice, Greg Spires, and Alshermond Singleton, with Sapp and Brooks splitting a sack.
The Bucs moved on from that game to go to the place where former Bucs teams often went to die. Yes, that is correct, they traveled a bit north for yet another NFC Championship game at The Vet. Yes, those same Philadelphia Eagles that had haunted their playoff experience for several seasons.
But not that season. In what could be described as a nip-and-tuck game, Joe Jurevicius made an improbable touchdown catch by popping the ball over the corner back’s head and then diving to make the catch in the end zone. He also had another catch on a crossing route that might have been a hint as to how the game would go, except that most Bucs fans in those days knew too well how a Buccaneer lead could vanish.
But not this game. In this game, Ronde Barber reprised the pick-six that Rice took away from him in the 49ers game. This time, the Eagles were driving to get back into the game. Barber showed blitz, and Eagle’s quarterback Donovan McNabb bit on the fake and opted for the quick slant. The only problem with the slant was that at the last second Barber dropped back into the passing pattern and took the intended completion the other way for a touchdown.
This time, there were no yellow droppings on the ground and the video shows how no one on that field could catch Barber. And no one was fined on that play either, and hopefully, the play will net Barber the yellow jacket he so richly deserves.
So, this column wandered all over the map a bit, but in the end, it provided an opportunity to rehash some old Buccaneer lore. At the end of the day, it gives us fans something to ruminate over as more and more stories appear about who the Bucs will choose with Pick 32, and preferably not a quarterback.