Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks has good reason to be upset about his back-up role. So when he shot a middle finger to the Dolphins bench during the Browns game on Sunday, many interpreted it as a not-so-secret message to the Dolphins coaching staff.
Starks now explains that it was just a joke, and apologizes for the incident.
The Dolphins slapped the franchise tag on Starks during the offseason, but only offered the two-time Pro Bowler a one-year contract extension. Starks perceived it as a dis, so he sat out some "Organized Team Activities" during pre-season, and he believes he was punished for doing so by being denied the starter role during Sunday's game.
Starks says the gesture was a joke intended for teammates and not a malicious message to coaches, but admits he could see how it seemed that way.
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"Of course I regret it," Starks told The Palm Beach Post. "It's something I shouldn't have (done). It's something I was joking around with my teammates. Whatever consequences happen, I have to take it.
"It definitely got blown out of proportion, but the situation where I'm in, in terms of not starting, not being here, I can see how it could be misleading."
Commenting on the incident on Monday, head coach Joe Philbin joked that the gesture was aimed "probably at me, directly."
Starks was not fined by the NFL.