|Sapp awaits word from NFL on possible suspension for bumping ref|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 26 December 2007 14:19|
Speaking about the incident for the first time, Sapp defended his actions and blamed the officiating crew for the situation which resulted in Oakland getting hit with four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties late in the first half, three on Sapp.
After the game, referee Jerome Boger said Sapp bumped umpire Garth DeFelice during the argument which was why he was ejected, a claim the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman vehemently denies.
``Come on, I've never touched anybody in any shape, form or anything,'' Sapp said. ``I've never been in a fight in this league. It's not about a fight.''
Sapp was given Wednesday off by the Raiders, as has been the team's custom with the 35-year-old veteran much of the season. He is expected to practice Thursday in anticipation of playing in Oakland's season finale against playoff-bound San Diego.
That could change if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decides to penalize or suspend Sapp. League spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday a decision should come by Friday.
Sapp has had run-ins with officials in the past. Before a game against Washington in 2003, Sapp, then with Tampa Bay, reportedly bumped an official. Four days later he was fined $50,000 for what the league called ``repeated violations of abusing officials.''
Oakland coach Lane Kiffin said the Raiders had already been in contact with the NFL over the latest incident.
``We made contact,'' Kiffin said. ``I don't think there's anything to it.''
The situation began late in the second quarter when Jacksonville right tackle Tony Pashos was flagged for illegal use of hands to the face. Officials initially said the Raiders declined the penalty, and the Jaguars lined up for a 43-yard field goal attempt. Officials then said Oakland would accept the penalty, making it third-and-20 from the Raiders 35.
Jacksonville's offense went back on the field, but a few seconds later, the officials called the first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sapp. That gave the Jaguars an automatic first down, and Sapp started jawing at officials.
Sapp and defensive end Derrick Burgess were both flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the arguments. Sapp kept talking and then drew the third penalty and the ejection. Players and Kiffin said they were told Sapp made contact with an official.
Sapp was not available for comment after the game but denied the claim on Wednesday.
``That's what they're trying to sneak in now, that, 'Oh, we got him bumping him twice,''' Sapp said. ``Bump who? It's been four days. You can't find it (on film) in four days? They got 20 cameras out there.''
Sapp, who had to be restrained by teammates and defensive line coach Keith Millard after being kicked out of the game, said he was surprised and felt cheated by being ejected for arguing with the officiating crew.
``It was all just words. I never put my hand on nobody, never bumped nobody, never did anything,'' Sapp said. ``I felt like I should have whipped somebody's (butt). I should have beaten somebody up so at least they put you on SportsCenter for whipping some (butt). At least you get a little respect.''