Friday, January 13, 2006
The NFL Network broadcast videotape of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor spitting at Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman yesterday, after Taylor repeatedly had denied doing so during Saturday's playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Taylor was immediately ejected from the game and fined $17,000 by the league.
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said this week that the team had reviewed film of the incident and could not find evidence of Taylor spitting, although Gibbs also said that he did not oppose the penalties against Taylor if he was guilty of doing so.
In the tape broadcast by the NFL Network, which is owned and operated by the league, spit was clearly visible flying from between Taylor's facemask, although it could not be seen striking Pittman. Pittman took a swipe at Taylor's helmet, apparently in retaliation, but was not penalized.
Referee Mike Carey, who was wearing a microphone, could be heard immediately ejecting Taylor. Carey could be seen separating the players and, after announcing Taylor's ejection, was approached by Redskins defensive backs Omar Stoutmire and Pierson Prioleau, who questioned his decision. When told that Taylor had spit in Pittman's face, Stoutmire could be heard saying, "Oh, oh, oh." Carey also asked the two Redskins, "What would you do?" in response to being spit upon.
Another official, head linesman Steve Stelljes, then approached Carey to ensure that he did not want to penalize Pittman for his slap to Taylor's helmet, but Carey was steadfast in his decision to penalize only Taylor.
Gibbs and other Redskins coaches and players were not available for comment yesterday, with the team traveling to Seattle. A team spokesman said the club had no further comment beyond what Gibbs told reporters earlier in the week.
Mike Pereira , the NFL's director of officiating, praised Carey's handling of the incident during the NFL Network segment, which was aired on the "Total Access" show. He said that offsetting personal fouls would not have been appropriate and called Taylor's act "pretty despicable."
"If anybody didn't eject somebody for spitting in somebody's face, I'd be disappointed," Pereira said.Taylor's Trial
Taylor's attorney, Ed Carhart, has asked a Miami judge to postpone the safety's trial date Tuesday on felony assault and misdemeanor battery charges, and a hearing on the request will take place today, according to Miami-Dade assistant state attorney Mike Grieco.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mary Barzee, who has twice postponed the trial already, could again decide to continue the case to a later date. But she also could postpone that decision until Tuesday, and Grieco said yesterday that in that case he would ask the judge to require Taylor to be present in court.
Grieco said he would not object to a continuance. "I do take issue with his not having to attend court as every other defendant has to when hearings come up," Grieco said. "I believe he should have to come in on Tuesday, because certain issues need to be addressed, and he should be present to address them."
Should the Redskins beat Seattle, they would be preparing for the NFC championship game on Tuesday.
Taylor, 22, is accused of brandishing a firearm at individuals he believed stole two all-terrain vehicles from him in Miami on June 1, and faces a minimum three-year prison sentence if convicted. Taylor has pleaded not guilty.
Carhart and Taylor were unavailable for comment yesterday.Sellers Buying
Tight end Mike Sellers, a native of Walla Walla, Wash., about 200 miles southeast of Seattle, is buying as many tickets as possible for the Seahawks game. Sellers, who is having the best season of his career, joked that he might need to devise some creative accounting measures to offset the expense. "This might be a tax write-off," Sellers said. "I'm going to donate a lot of tickets, if you know what I mean." . . .
The Redskins were scheduled to fly to Seattle yesterday evening, and have a light practice scheduled there today.
-- Jason La Canfora