Cardinal offensive guard Conrad Dobler apologized today for pushing an official during the Miami Dolphins' 55-14 slaughter of St. Louis Thursday and explained the sequence of events that got him so upset.
"He (linebacker Bob Matheson of the Dolphins) spat at me earlier," said Dobler. "He head-slapped (now an illegal maneuver for defenders) me three times. So I drove him 15 yards down field and he grabbed my face mask and pulled me down.
"The next thing I knew, there were four or five guys on top of me."
Dobler said when he fought himself free the official informed him he was ejected. Dobler contended the Official pushed him on the chest and he merely pushed back, "lightly."
"There was no reason for me to lose my temper," Dobler said. "He shoved me first, but I apologize. I intend to send him a letter of apology. I'm big enough to do that. I'm sorry I lost my temper."
A spokesman for the National Football League said today the NFL has not yet received any evidence of the apology. The spokesman said commissioner Pete Rozelle "is concerned" and will act accordingly after a review of the incident.
The official said it will not be determined until films are viewed how much Dobler will be fined.
It is almost certain that he will be fined, because it usually costs $150 when a player is ejected.
The fine is expected to be larger than usual because Dobler pushed the official, and because the scuffling with the Dolphins was "protracted," the league spokesman noted, in contrast to usually brief flareups.
Rozelle is not likely to look indulgently at this latest incident, which occurred on a national telecast after Rozelle recently "deplored unnecessary violence."
Art McNally, supervisor of NFL officials, already has talked to the referee of the game, Fred Wyant.
"We expect to receive a report by the game officials by Monday," the NFL spokesman said. "We have asked for the NFL Films' tapes and will get the game films from both coaches, and took at the tapes of the telecast by NBC."
It appeared Dobler also swung at his offensive line coach, Jim Hanifan, but it was a case of Dobler's being so demonstrative with his arms in reporting that the official pushed him that he inadvertently stuck the telephone line connecting the Cardinals' coaches in the press box with the sidelines. Dobler yanked the head phones and cap off the startled Hanifan.
Miami defensive end A. J. Duhe accused Dobler of swinging at Dolphin players, pulling their face masks, taking cheap shots and threatening to "get" the Dolphins. Duhe said he interpreted that to mean their knees.
Wide receiver Mat Moore charged Dobler with injuring the knee of defeisve end Vern Den Herder.
Dolphin coach Don Shula said the play of Dobler was a "disgrace," but that the blow that ended the season for Den Herder was not a cheap shot.
Den Herder took a hit on his knee near the end of the game and will have to undergo surgery Saturday.
Also lost for the season was safety Charlie Babb, who broke his collar bone. Linebacker Steve Towle injured his knee and ribs and was to undergo further tests.