After his employer fined him $20,000, New Orleans Saints Coach Mike Ditka apologized for two obscene gestures he made to taunting fans after his team's fourth straight loss.
"Sometimes getting old is not getting smart," Ditka said today, his 60th birthday. "What I did was probably as stupid as anything I've ever done. I make no excuse for it, no alibi. I apologize to everybody--the fans, the city, the organization, my players and the league. There's no place for anything like that regardless of the amount of frustration or disappointment or anger."
The money from the fine will be donated to area charities.
"Our fans have been loyal to us for three decades," Saints General Manager Bill Kuharich said. "The entire Saints organization agree that our fans do not deserve that type of behavior."
Ditka made an obscene gesture and shouted an obscenity at fans as he left the field at halftime Sunday. The fans were booing after the Saints mismanaged the clock and failed to score after having a first down on the Tennessee Titans 1-yard line with 12 seconds remaining in the half.
The Saints (1-4) were leading 10-0 at the time but lost, 24-21, the fourth straight game the Saints have lost in the fourth quarter.
After the game a small crowd chanted at Ditka as he and the team left the field. As the coach walked past, Ditka stopped, turned toward them, made another obscene gesture and mouthed another obscenity before walking into the locker room.
"The fine was justified," Ditka said. "I make the promise that, of course, it will never happen again."
The NFL will not take further action against Ditka, Kuharich and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Ditka's frustration appears to be mounting along with a string of losses that have all come during fourth-quarter collapses.
"Mike is frustrated, we're all frustrated," said center Jerry Fontenot, who also played for Ditka in Chicago. "Nobody wants to win more than Mike. It's not a good time, but I think he's handling it as well as anyone."
The Saints have lost 14 of their last 18 games. The offense has not been more effective than last year, when it was 28th overall and dead last in rushing. New Orleans had not scored in the fourth quarter until Sunday.