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NFL Fines Browns Punter Gardocki

September 21, 2000

BEREA, Ohio (AP) _ Browns punter Chris Gardocki was fined $5,000 by the NFL on Thursday for obscenely gesturing toward Pittsburgh’s bench during Cleveland’s 23-20 win over the Steelers.

Gardocki extended a finger after linebacker Joey Porter knocked him to the ground while he was watching a punt sail down field.

``My argument is that the guy tried to end my career,″ Gardocki said. ``What I did, I don’t condone, but it wasn’t meant for anybody except their sideline. If I had to do it over again, I would have done it again.″

League spokesman Dan Masonson confirmed the fine and said there was no penalty against Porter.

Porter’s shot and Gardocki’s response has fueled one of the NFL’s nastiest rivalry.

Gardocki was roughed up by the Steelers twice after punts. The first time, he was able to fend off Porter and linebacker Jason Gildon. But the second time, Porter’s shot sent Gardocki flying.

``I landed flat on my back and had some pain shooting down my legs,″ Gardocki said. ``At that point you start thinking about what might be wrong. Am I going to be OK?″

Gardocki waved his finger at the Steelers’ while laying on the ground and then again after he was helped to his feet.

``Everybody knows who that was targeted for,″ he said.

Gardocki, who set an NFL record for consecutive punts without a block earlier this season, said that after watching game films it appeared Porter’s hit was premeditated.

``It’s unfortunate that what I did afterward,″ Gardocki said. ``I apologize to the Cleveland fans and the ownership and organization. But I don’t take that back at all because my career is very important to me.″

The Steelers contend they were merely blocking Gardocki to keep him out of the play.

Browns coach Chris Palmer said Steelers coach Bill Cowher talked to him after the game about the hits on Gardocki.

``Bill assured me he would take care of that,″ Palmer said. ``I assured him I didn’t condone that, and I didn’t encourage our players to retaliate.″

Gardocki wasn’t buying the Steelers’ reasoning that they needed to block him on the punts.

``They’re the Pittsburgh Steelers and that shows what kind of character they’ve got,″ he said.

The Browns and Steelers play again Oct. 22 at Pittsburgh.

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