It’s long been a rule of mine that old geezers (you pick the starting age, generally somewhere well past my 59 years and extending to Phyllis Diller range) ought to be able to get away with just about anything they do or say, provided, of course, that no actual laws are broken and no one is materially harmed in the process.
With that tortured preamble, I hereby vigorously defend one Bud Adams, he of ambidextrous bird-flipping talents as he found himself in a frenzy after his Tennessee Titans routed their archrival Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Oh, I understand the necessity of a fine from the NFL, which naturally has to be aghast at such unruly behavior during a game where 100 rugged athletes do their best to annihilate each other over the course of 60 minutes of brutal collisions. Can’t have the kiddies asking mom and dad what those hand signals from the owner’s booth were all about: I concede that’s awkward.
So the NFL had to sack him, but $250,000 seems a little outrageous for a pro football pioneer who got a little carried away in the heat of the battle. I presume that the NFL, which raises millions of dollars every year for a number of charities, would earmark that handsome stack of bonus revenue for some such worthy cause, but that still doesn’t make it right.
One supposes that deterrence is the biggest rationale the NFL would trot out to explain the enormity of the fine, that and the previously mentioned part about parents having awkward moments trying to explain the nuances of such gestures to youngsters.
But a certain amount of that kind of delicate dance is to be expected in raising children. I remember making a gesture (not the bird) to my sister at the dinner table nearly 50 years ago, and getting a little “love tap” from my father for my troubles. This felt like a grave injustice, since I was mimicking an elaborate, two-handed gesture from soccer fans that I had seen in Sports Illustrated.
Naturally, my defense was that I hadn’t known precisely what the gesture meant, but that was hardly solid ground, since I should have been able to discern from the context of the photo (thousands of really angry soccer fans) that the sentiment conveyed was something other than, “Jolly good play, old sport.”
But I’m not defending Bud Adams because of a grievous miscarriage of justice a half-century ago in Johnstown, N.Y., nor am I suggesting that anybody should be cut a little slack just because they have deep pockets. Nope, I merely want to believe that if you get all the way to age 86 and haven’t got any felonies, high crimes or misdemeanors on your record in all that time, you’ve probably earned yourself a pass if you get a little carried away at a raucous football game or in the passing lane of Interstate 95 just south of the Philadelphia Airport.
And even though I’m not technically an old geezer yet, I’m not apologizing to the guy in the yellow Volvo.