By Robert Imrie Associated
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Buffalo special teams star Steve Tasker was ejected
Saturday from the final game of his 13-year NFL career for protesting a
muffed Bills punt and bumping an official.
Tasker rushed at the officials early in the first
quarter after they signaled the Green Bay Packers had recovered a fumbled
punt in the end zone for a touchdown.
"It's not really the way I wanted my career to end,
obviously," Tasker said after being ejected for the first time in his career.
"I was very sad that I had to leave the game. But
on the other hand, I was kind of laughing, because it's your farewell game
and 'Hey Steve, let me be the first to say goodbye,"' he said.
Tasker, who has played in four Super Bowls and seven
Pro Bowls and is considered one of the best special teams players in NFL
history, announced his retirement a week ago, effective with Saturday's
season finale against Green Bay. The Packers won 31-21.
The play that got Tasker ejected occurred when he
decided not to catch a punt deep in his own territory with less than two
The ball bounced inside the 5-yard line and television
replays showed it grazed the back of the Bills' Raymond Jackson as he skidded
on the ground on his knees trying to get out of the way.
The ball then bounced into the hands of Tyrone Davis
for a touchdown.
Referee Mike Carey immediately signaled the score,
and Tasker protested. He later rushed into a crowd of players and officials
and yellow flags went flying.
Tasker was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Carey said Tasker was "complaining about a foul
and bumped" back judge Tom Sifferman, a rule violation that mandates an
Carey said he knew it was Tasker's final game. "That's
not a license. It's unfortunate, but it's not a license," the referee said
After being ejected, Tasker was escorted partially
down the sidelines by some officials before he sprinted toward the locker
room to the cheers of Packers fans.
Buffalo coach Marv Levy said Tasker just brushed
by one official in trying to get to talk to another one.
"Here's a guy that's done everything by the rules
in his entire career," Levy said. "I'm biting my tongue to not talk now
about what I feel is an injustice."
Tasker, 35, was among Buffalo's most popular players
because of his easy-going personality. He made a career out of covering
punts, blocking them and returning them.
Tasker was one of five players remaining from the
Bills' four Super Bowl teams.
Tasker said he didn't know he had been ejected until
a teammate told him.
Tasker doublechecked with an official before leaving
"I said, 'Man, I'm sorry to make you do that do
me. I didn't mean to put you in that position,"' Tasker said. "Even though
I had no intention of pushing an official, it is a rule and it was probably
the right call."