By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was fined $17,000 by the NFL yesterday for spitting on Tampa Bay running Michael Pittman during Saturday's playoff game, league sources said. Taylor will not be suspended for the team's NFC semifinal game in Seattle on Saturday.
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said he spoke at length to Taylor about the incident and cautioned him against any similar actions. The team looked at video of the incident and could not find evidence that Taylor spit, Gibbs said.
"If that took place, we understand the penalties and we understand somebody being taken out of the game," Gibbs told reporters yesterday. "We certainly don't want that. He's too valuable of a player to have that happen to us. Hopefully, that's going to be something that never happens again."
Gibbs said he believed that Pittman -- who slapped at Taylor's helmet -- may have deserved punishment as well.
Taylor, 22, told coaches and teammates that he did not spit in Pittman's face, but on-field officials ejected him immediately and penalized the Redskins 15 yards, which prolonged a Tampa Bay drive late in the third quarter. Taylor has a history of personal foul penalties and fines from the NFL, which takes a player's history into account when assessing the size of penalties. The $17,000 fine equals the playoff bonus each Redskins player earned for the NFC first-round game.
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said Sunday that he believed Taylor spit on Pittman, and was bracing for a heavy fine. Upshaw will represent both Taylor and Pittman in the matter, but realized he might not have much of a case in appeal given the nature of the incident.
"I'll be saying, 'He's done some crazy [stuff] before, but not this crazy [stuff],' " Upshaw said. "I've got nothing else I can argue. He's going to get a fine. There's no doubt about that. There's no room for that in the game."
Taylor, who played college football at the University of Miami, has been in disciplinary trouble since Washington made him the No. 5 overall pick in the 2004 draft. He was fined $25,000 for skipping a mandatory rookie symposium that summer. In his rookie season, he accrued $17,500 in fines for unnecessary roughness penalties on consecutive weekends and was accused of spitting by Cincinnati wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The league found insufficient evidence to punish him for that.
He also has been fined several times for violating the league's uniform standards, most recently this season when he was fined $5,000 for wearing striped socks in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Taylor was arrested on drunken driving charges as a rookie but was acquitted. He faces a Jan. 17 trial date on felony weapons charges for allegedly pulling a gun on individuals he believed stole two all-terrain vehicles from him in Miami. That court date would come in the week preceding the NFC championship game, which the Redskins would participate in should they beat the Seahawks. As of now it is mandatory that Taylor attend the trial in Miami, even though it would be a practice day for the Redskins should they win this weekend.
Taylor's attorney could still file a continuance to postpone the hearing up until that day -- the case has been pushed back twice already -- and sources with the prosecution said they would not raise objections to another continuance, although they are preparing as if they will go to trial next week.
Taylor has declined to comment on the spitting incident to the media. His teammates said they are relived there is no suspension forthcoming.
"This upcoming game, he'll redeem himself," offensive lineman Chris Samuels said. "I don't think he'll make that mistake again."