I’m sitting at the game yesterday when news comes over that a running back gave a defender the finger on his way to a touchdown.  That this came during the Harvard-Yale game made the story even better.

The back was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the touchdown taken off the board.

Unfortunately, the national media, as is its wont sometimes, overreacted to what actually happened.

In the fourth quarter, with Harvard leading 28-27, the Crimson’s Devin Darrington was heading for touchdown glory at Fenway Park when a replay view made it looked as if he unleashed a Nelson Rockefeller/Johnny Cash/Mr. Met special at a closing Yalie before he crossed the goal line.

The Internet went berserk. HARVARD RB GIVES MIDDLE FINGER TO YALE DEFENDER ON TD, said HARVARD LOSES TD AFTER PLAYER FLIPS OFF YALE, offered USA TodayDeadspin was quick with a video. Yours truly thought it was a genuine bird flip and piled on.

But Finger Zapruder-ists wondered if the digit in question was, in fact, an index finger—and if the Harvard runner was merely signaling “Shhh” or “We’re No. 1.”

You know what’s coming next, right?

Now a photographer from the Harvard Crimson, Tim O’Meara, has come forward with what appears to be proof of an index finger.

Great shot, Tim.

I spoke to O’Meara, who said he hadn’t been aware of the controversy surrounding the Finger until he went to dinner later with his parents, who were also at the game. His father commented on the speculation of the middle finger, so O’Meara went back and looked through his photos until he found one that clearly showed Darrington has raised an index finger.

“It was cool to realize for the first time that something I’d seen all over the sports media was not as it seemed,” said O’Meara, a Crimson staffer.

Sigh.  Maybe next time.  At least I hope they call this the Finger Game.


Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

16 responses to “Fingered

  1. Uglydawg

    Clearly the index finger..still taunting, though, but not as ugly as the bird. Probably still a penalty, but would they have taken the points off the board?


    • The Dawg abides

      Yes. If he was flagged for taunting before crossing the goal lone, the play is coming back. Doesn’t matter if it was a bird, a throat slash, a thumbs up, a piece sign, a three stooges chin-wave, a fart in his general direction, or a booger flicked his way, it’s still taunting.


  2. Will Trane

    Well, I am not an official.
    Second, I am not interested in another game, unless it is a SEC game, while the Dawgs are in play. I can check other games later.
    But I think that is clearly taunting and it does not matter what finger he used or how some one in the media or elsewhere deemed it.
    Use of fingers, arms, ball, and etc in gesture is taunting, at least where I’ve seen properly call penalties by officials.
    Second it would probably be a deemed live ball penalty.
    Correct call by the refs.
    I could inject some more into this but I will wait until the coming play pen drops in this week.
    Worst call was against Ole Miss in OT.
    That was not only one in late play in that game. Surely, SEC office will review and comment on that officiating and clarification from the “booth”.


    • CB

      Swift has been high stepping in opponents faces all season. Should those runs be called back?


      • Jack Burton

        High stepping while approaching a defender is not taunting. While it may be considered flashy, etc it is actually no different than the old school shoulder shimmy / chop steps. It’s used to throw the defender off.


  3. Bulldog Joe

    The Ivy League schools don’t have the money for instant replay?


  4. Bonedawg

    Looking at video I think it was index but don’t think this picture proves that. Believe this was earlier in the run as the defensive player in this pic is #21 and the guy he taunted was #26.


    • CB

      Watch the second replay with the official. #21 was the trailing defender. At the angle of the picture #26 was out of frame. It’s pretty clear evidence unless you’re claiming the running back had more than one sideline run where he holds up a finger. If that was the case it would be pretty easy to find out if you watch the game film.

      Don’t overthink it. The refs screwed it up.


  5. gastr1

    Sometimes it amazes me how people don’t actually look at anything. There’s no way that was a bird from the first highlight because his palm starts out turned to the side a bit as he’s running– then he moves his hand toward his face, as if to shush. We all know how to do a damn bird. Wrist turned is not it; pretending to eat it yourself is not it.


  6. Otto

    Which finger it was doesn’t matter. It was clearly taunting before the score and by rule, the score comes back.


  7. Russ

    So many good stories around this game. The Athletic has a good recap of the 68 game (“Harvard beats Yale 29-29”). There was also the MIT hack in 1982 when a weather balloon inflated and popped in the middle of the field.

    I wish this had been a bird. Makes the story better. I hope Holyfield flips off Fishfry as he’s running for his 4th score on Saturday.


  8. Macallanlover

    Thought this was about Laura Rutledge at first. Sorry.
    I would have thought the TD would stand and the penalty would be on the kickoff (should be on the XPT to me, but I digress.) Guess it is looked like at the same was a dive into the end zone when no one is closely pursuing. I was wondering about the move Reece made after a big hit when he flashed the “biceps up” pose. We have been penalized for less, just saying…. (something more for us to worry about on December 1.)


  9. The Dawg abides

    Some people seemed to be confused that the fact if it was a bird or an index finger matters. The ref didn’t say “ flipping a bird”, he said the call was taunting. By rule, it doesn’t make a difference if it was a bird or a point or a “shush”. For the record I don’t agree with it, but the rule was put into place a few years back specifically for in-play gestures and celebrations. By far, the most the most common moves flagged have been high stepping or flipping into the end zone, followed by waving bye at the defense as a player scores. As far as the rule is concerned, an unnecessary gesture made toward an opposing player is taunting.


    • Macallanlover

      Good explanation. I have no problem with taunting calls at all, it is unsportsmanlike and leads to other issues. Still don’t get how FU gets away with their chomp taunts, feel the other schools should demand an explanation of why this is granted a special exemption.


  10. Thorn Dawg

    Fake news?