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3 posts from September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013

Starks: 'I regret' flipping the bird

If you watched the game, you saw it. If you read this blog, you saw it. Randy Starks collected a sack on Sunday and celebrated with a one-finger salute aimed toward the Dolphins sideline.

The move became the source of much speculation. (Not on this blog, if you read the post). And the NFL may at some point have a say on the matter with a fine.

But speaking about the issue to the media for the first time Tuesday, Starks showed remorse for the move.

"Of course I regret it,” Starks said while a group of a dozen reporters gathered around him. "It’s something I shouldn’t have [done]. It was something that I was joking around with my teammates. Whatever consequences happen, I have to take it."

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin met with Starks about the matter on Monday. I'm told the coach made the point to Starks that flipping the bird on the field is not the kind of behavior he condones. The coach told Starks it's wrong.

On Tuesday the coach declined to say what was said in the meeting.

“Any discussions I might have had with Randy would stay internal," he said. "They are of a personal nature."

This much is clear: Starks was encouraged to make the issue go away. Quickly.

Starks said Tuesday he flipped the bird toward the Dolphins sideline because he was joking with some teammates on the sideline about getting a sack. He was just having fun, he said, but the gesture  "came out the wrong way."

Starks said the gesture had nothing to do with his contract situation. We already knew that, if you read my post on the topic. He said he understood how his definite distaste for not starting -- something that is not questionable -- might have led folks to think his gesture was a comment on that situation. 

"The situation I’m in as far as not starting and not being here [in the offseason], I can see how that can be misleading," Starks said.

Let this remain clear: Starks is over the contrace issue. It's not a problem for him. He's making $8.45 million guaranteed this year. So he is "over" that, as he said on Twitter Monday. But ...

He is unhappy about not starting. Those close to him make no bones about that. Starks himself said earlier in camp he felt like he was being punished for not showing up to offseason training by having to compete with Jared Odrick for the starting job.

And now this is also clear: While Starks isn't happy about coming off the bench, his salute wasn't a message.

By the way, on Tuesday Jared Odrick continued to be ahead of Starks in practice.

The latest from Dolphins camp right here

The Dolphins are back working and preparing for Indianapolis today and here's what's going on:

CBs Dimitri Patterson (groin) and Jamar Taylor (groin) are not practicing today. QB Pat Devlin (ankle) is not practicing today.

CB Will Davis, who missed last week's practices and game against Cleveland with a toe injury, returned to practice today. He practiced at least on a limited basis.

The Dolphins did a couple of practice squad transactions today. The club signed QB Austin Davis and cornerback Devin Smith to the practice squad. The club cut CB De'Andre Presley and DT Al Lapuaho off practice squad.

The there's this:

The Dolphins, I'm told, are not pleased with their special teams kick and punt coverage coming off the Cleveland game. The Dolphins today rank 31st in the NFL in punt return defense and they rank 25th in kick return defense.

So the club is considering some changes to the coverage teams. I'm told the team will give practice squader Jordan Kovacs, a safety, a long look on coverage teams this week and if he responds with great work in practice, he might be promoted to the regular roster to work on special teams against Indianapolis.

Don Shula A Football Life tonight on NFL Network

Don Shula was the greatest NFL coach of all time.

Yes, that is subjective. And an argument can be made for Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh. A case can be stated that Chuck Noll won more Super Bowls. And I know George Halas and Paul Brown were league cornerstones well before Shula came on the scene.

But as Shula used to say, "There's a reason we keep score and there's a reason we have standings."

Shula won more games than anyone else.

And Shula was the only man to guide an NFL team to an undefeated and untied Super Bowl title. The 1972 Dolphins were 17-0. Perfect.

Shula coached the Dolphins from 1970 to January 1996. That means a lot of Dolphins fans today never watched a Shula team play. A lot of Dolphins fans today never watched Shula coach.

They know Shula more as a restaurant than a football coach.

Those people should watch the NFL Network tonight at 9 p.m. when Don Shula A Football Life will air, recalling the Dolphins' heyday, examining the history of a coach and the franchise he helped establish as elite, examining a fascinating man who will forever cast a shadow over every coach the Dolphins will have. 

"People ask me how I coach as long as I coached, for 33 years," Shula says early in the broadcast. "I tell them, 'you have to win early and often.'"

Shula did that. But he did something else. He won early and often and then kept winning. And winning. And winning. He had only two losing seasons in 33 years.

Shula was a pillar. He was around from the Korean War through the Cold War. He coached Unitas and Marino. He coached teams that ran better than any other. He coached teams that passed better than any other.

"He is a measure above normal men," Irving Fryar says in the piece.

"... He would cut his mother ...," Nick Buoniconti says of Shula's approach.

Shula remains the man against whom I measure other coaches -- not just Dolphins coaches, but all NFL coaches. He was very kind to young, cub reporter named Salguero. And we built a mutual trust. I knew he'd never lie. I knew integrity was woven into the fabric of his being. I knew that with Shula coaching the Dolphins, I'd be covering the team in the playoffs practically every year.

If you are old enough to remember Shula on the Dolphins sideline, watch A Football Life this evening to recall the good old days. If you are too young to remember Shula, watch A Football Life as an education.

After the 9 p.m. broadcast Shula will appear in studio at 10 p.m. on NFL Network to discuss the backstory of the documentary. It's an all-Don Shula primetime on NFL Network tonight.